An archaeological glimpse at NGO identity in South Africa

SOURCE: Journal of Education
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 1976
HANDLE: 20.500.11910/8936

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This paper explores the impact of the econometric/technocratic rationality on Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), investigating how this has shaped their identity in a transitional democracy. Using selected vignettes and snapshots from data collected, the author explores the theory of isomorphism, in an attempt to demonstrate that in a rapidly globalising economic climate, NGOs such as ELET are forced to mimic the institutional cultures of their donors and funders if they are to survive. I argue further that notwithstanding the predilection for institutional isomorphism, NGOs do possess the capacity to subvert the natural progression towards isomorphism by reinventing themselves to become contextually relevant. Finally, the paper argues that while it is perhaps a truism that research agendas are inevitably shaped by neo-liberal global forces, contemporary social theory and sociologically informed empirical research still have an important role to play in making sense of the dynamic relationships between the state, education and civil society.