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Growth and spread of the INGO system

The Future of Leadership: reframing the unknown (Part #3)

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We have selected a few tables based on the data collected and published by the Union of International Associations (UIA), an INGO situated in Brussels. A more detailed presentation and discussion of these and related tables can be found elsewhere. (2 0)

3.1. Growth in Numbers and Memberships
Figure 1 shows the number of INGOs found per five-year period since 1850. Before 1895 the number never exceeded fifty, but in the subsequent period lasting to the onset of World War I there was a sharp increase. The war killed the boom, but after 1919 the world witnessed a resurgence of INGOs which lasted until a new political catastrophy emerged in the thirties. Since 1945 there has been an impressive and steady growth of organizations. Table 5 shows the number of active INGOs since 1954. It has practically doubled in the course of those sixteen years, which means that the mean annual increase has been somewhere between 4% and 5%. (EEC and EFTA INGOs are excluded from this as well as from the other tables.) The mean number of countries represented in each organization has also increased considerably. It was 21.0 in 1951 and 25.7 in 1966, a growth of 22 per cent in fifteen years. These figures partly reflect the large number of new nations, of course, but it nevertheless means that INGOs generally have become more representative.

3.2. National Representations across Regions
In spite of the growth of the mean number of national representations, representativeness still remains one of the key problems in the INGO system, as this is illustrated in Table 3. (21) The Northwestern region has more than half of all the national representations in INGOs. The figure drops considerably from 1951 to 1966, but this is in large part due to the increasing number of nations in some of the other regions. The number of nations now seems to have reached it saturation point, and we therefore expect less reduction of the Northwestern bias in the future to come unless there is a conscious attempt to change this. On the basis of other data regarding the site of headquarters, the nationality of INGO officers and the like, it is safe to conclude that the higher the level in the organizational structure at which involvement takes place, the larger is the percentage of Northwest representation. Moreover, the higher the organizational level, the more slowly the percentage of Northwest representation diminishes. Thus the INGO system is to a large extent, but certainly not exclusively, a Northwest dominated system.

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