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Inter-organizational relationships: in search of a new style


Inter-organizational relationships
I.Meeting Style
II. Shared Facilities
III.Information and Communication
IV.New Styles of Organization
V.Changes in Intergovernmental Secretariats
VI.Legal Recognition of International Non-governmental Organizations
VII. Social Recognition

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Originally published in International Associations, 1973, pp. 398-404 [PDF version] as an abridged and modified version of the final part of the report of Seminar on the Philosophy and Functioning of International Nongovernmental Organization (Milan, May 1972). Later published in: The Open Society: report of a seminar to reflect on the network of international associations (Brussels, Union of International Associations, 1973, pp. 115-132). Also versions: Français, Nederlands, Espagnol, Italiano, Deutsch.
I. Meeting Style
II. Shared Facilities
III. Information and Communication
IV. New Styles of Organization
V. Changes in Intergovernmental Secretariats
VI.  Legal Recognition of International Non-governmental Organizations
VII.  Social Recognition


The following points must be borne in mind in identifying practical changes for future organizational action (see also Principles of Transnational Action):

  1. Major restructuration of existing inter-organizational relations will apparently not be feasible until catalyzed by the next major social crisis (so proposals for change should concentrate on relations between organizations and not on changes to organizations).
  2. Concentration of organizational resources is desirable but cannot be achieved by centralized coordination of organizations (unless the alienation of many potential collaborators is acceptable).
  3. Informational links should be substituted wherever possible for organizational links (since the latter tend to become clogged by personality, procedural and status problems).
  4. Participative involvement in programme formulation should replace mobilized support for programme execution.
  5. Organizational flexibility should replace organizational rigidity (to permit more rapid response to new action opportunities and to permit new organizational configurations to emerge quickly wherever required).
  6. Social realities should be considered more important than legal and administration fictions (to permit greater response to action-oriented commitment as opposed to status-oriented procedures).
  7. Meetings of NGO representatives should not be structured to favour consensus formation in plenary, since it is only very rarely that delegates come with a mandate to commit the NGO to any course of action (and most of the other reasons for voting are purely symbolic and a waste of meeting time).

On this basis, the following suggestions for future action can be made:

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