You are here

Conclusions and recommendations

The Future of Leadership: reframing the unknown (Part #6)

[Parts: First | Prev | All] [Links: To-K | From-K | From-Kx | Refs ]

The number of INGOs is growing, and they are expanding in terms of geographical representation and functional scope. Whilst the INGOs, directly or through their members, constitute an extremely useful group of actors in some respects, their full contribution to the global social processes can only be achieved if the development of the INGO network is stimulated along certain lines to correct for imbalance, side-effects and inadequate utilization. A number of policy recommendations in this direction are listed below:

6.1. The degree of organizational interlinkage would seem to preclude simplistic analysis of organizations as isolated entities. Furthermore, the network of INGOs is constantly evolving in response to new insights, possibilities, and problems. It is therefore less the pattern at any one moment which should be the focus of concern and much more the pattern-forming potential of organizational sub units and active individuals.

6.2. To handle the problems associated with the catchall category of INGOs, the goal should be to map organization in its broadest sense, namely as composed of relatively invariant entities. The entity is in fact a pattern of relationships, subject to change, but recognizably extended in time. The cut-off point, below which the duration of a pattern is considered too ephemeral, should be dependent upon data collection ability rather than preconceived models. This way 'of regarding the objects of attention in society helps to resolve the dichotomy between the individual and society and many other pseudo-problems resulting from the tendency, built into language, to regard entities as "things" rather than systematically related sequences of events. (40)

This "loose" approach can be achieved by handling the entities and relationships as networks which can be processed and represented using graph theory techniques (41). In effect, a non -quantitative topological structure of the psycho-social system is built up, to which dynamic and quantitative significance can be added as and when appropriate data becomes available.

6.3. Greater effort should be made to map out transnational networks (possibly by a succession of overlapping surveys) so that organizations can see their direct and indirect relationships to one another, -- and also such that second and higher order patterns of dominance can be detected. (Interorganizational maps should have the same status and accessibility as road maps in order that people can navigate more effectively through the social system.)

6.4. The degree of possible functional substitution between different styles of organization suggests that great care is required when establishing categories for the purposes of analysis, program elaboration or legislation. There is in fact a need for greater understanding of organizational networks as ecosystems, such that the function of a significant, but seemingly insignificant, body in a communication web can be made apparent.

A greater tolerance of the variety of organizational species is required and of the manner in which particular types are more appropriate under given conditions. (It is perhaps appropriate to note that botanists and zoologists recognize around one million plants and animals respectively -- whereas a sociologist might be said to recognize around one hundred types of collectivity.) A taxonomy and a new "Origin of Species" is required to knot together this variety into an evolving psycho-social system.

6.5. Greater stress should be placed on the network of nongovernmental nonprofit bodies as a social -phenomenon rather than as an administrative or political problem for government. The degree of organization of a society is one measure of its social development. The number and variety of organizations or office-holders per capita is a measure of the participative opportunity or socializing potential of that society. Data on INGOs and their national counterparts could therefore constitute an important social indicator for development policy-making and should have a status equivalent to that of economic units of society. (As things stand, no systematic data collection on organizations between the national and local level is carried out.) (42)

6.6. Nongovernmental, nonprofit bodies pose a special problem for countries in the early stages of social development, since, as with the two-party system, they appear to constitute a threat to the stability of the government in power and are therefore the subject of suspicion if permitted to exist. Further study is required of the areas in which the different styles of INGOs can usefully function, at different stages of development, without constituting a rallying point for premature dissent. This should help to determine at what stage, and under what conditions, the (more suspect) link to an INGO becomes appropriate.

6.7 Besides the functions performed for their special constituencies, INGOs in a network perform functions for one another. Further study is required of the manner in which control information should be elaborated and circulated to govern the action of a network of organizations in the absence of any prime controller (due to the continuing emergence of new problems configurations) any single permanent objective ( ) .

6.8. The degree of interconnectedness and direct or indirect interdependence of organizations suggests that, where two organizational systems have common objectives or concerns, it is short-sighted and possible counter -productive for the first system to request the second for assistance in the accomplishment of its own system objectives -- and to ignore or disassociate itself from the second when it pursues the same objectives in a different manner Both systems should rather
seek to improve their functioning as interdependent systems and ensure that their operations mesh effectively.

6.9. Any successful attempt by a particular organization to mobilize all others in unquestioning support of its own programmes reduces the overall ability of the network of organizations to respond effectively to unforeseen problems. Recommendations to "regroup", "reduce proliferation", or "increase coordination", should be
assessed against the need for variety. The degree of fragmentation of organizational systems (whether governmental or nongovernmental) in part reflects the need for sufficient organizational frameworks through which active individuals can meaningfully participate in the social process. The interlocking complexity of the nongovernmental sector may be considered a major insurance against undetected manipulation of social processes by elite groups -- provided such
bodies have sufficient freedom of action to fulfill their responsibility.

6.10. Means are required to achieve an optimum degree of organizational coordination (consistent with points 6.7., 6.8., 6.9.).

(a) Informal contact: Provision of low-rent office and meeting facilities (or other shared administrative services) in one centre within major cities, brings a variety of organizations with potentially related concerns into fruitful informal contact. This increases their effectiveness, leads to working contacts where and when appropriate, provides the "critical mass" required for mutual encouragement and outside recognition, and facilitates the conception and germination of new programmes. It also provides the facilitative base for newly- e stabli shed bodies during their growth period. The creation of such focal points for the mobilization of untapped social forces should be viewed as a priority for city and national governments.

(b) Information systems: Bodies should be informed of each other's existence a s soon a s they are able t o f ormulate a problem or interest in common. Prior to entering into some direct relationship potential partners need to be conceived of as "members" of a "potential association" from which particular groupings gel as required by the problem configuration, and into which they dissolve when their objective is achieved. Such a potential association could be given the necessary operational framework by substituting a form of information system or cum referral service for normally- con st ituted membership organizations -- thus avoiding administrative and political problems of "recognition" and proof of "relevance".

Provision of low-cost communication facilities (telephone, telex, datalink) between organizations in centres (see point 6..9.) in different countries permits organizations to develop regional contacts more easily to mesh their programmes more effectively with those of other bodies, to channel resources through the network more efficiently and rapidly in response to emergencies, and increases their ability to interact with their counterparts at the national level and with programmes in the field.

6.11. In order to reduce official hostility or indifference to INGOs in the future, steps should be taken to introduce material on nongovernmental action and its relation to social development into university curricula, diplomat training, and foreign service briefing sessions. Intergovernmental organizations, particularly the UN Specialized Agencies, could usefully focus in their. public information and personnel training programmes on their relationships with INGOs.

6.12 Specific legislation concerning the status of INGOs with headquarters or branches in a given country (possibly on the Belgian model) should be recommended to States via intergovernmental assemblies. (This should take into account the apparently minor questions of status of "alien" personnel, problems of double taxation, continuity of pension and social security rights for personnel moving between countries and organizations, which are the sine qua non of the effective professionalization of the INGO network.)

6.13 Steps should be taken to represent the case for an international convention to give an international legal status to INGOs -- with due consideration for their responsibilities and rights. As participants in the social process they have responsibilities for the well-being of individuals, other bodies, and society as a whole, in the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights -- the principal responsibility is to make every effort to call attention to, or to counteract any errors of omission or commission in society which their special expertise enables them to detect. Organizations should have certain rights for their protection in the exercise of their responsibilities ( )

6.14. INGOs (and IGOs) must recognize the existence and need for a wide range of styles of organization, that is, the "significance" of an INGO should be rated on a combination of many measures rather than on membership or budget . Functional equivalents of Western-type organizations should be recognized in other cultures, and social systems. Allowances shoul i d be made for structural or constitutional incompatibilities between potential members. Research is needed on the problems of
decision-making in multi-cultural organizations.

6.15 Regional IGOs should facilitate the formation of regional INGOs according to the styles of organization in the region. IGO-INGO contact mechanisms at the regional level should be developed. In some issue areas super-INGOs of regional INGOs should be encouraged when appropriate. Efforts should also be made to increase the involvement of developing region INGOs or national bodies in multi-region INGOs. In particular communication links should be improved (see point 6.9.), meetings should be rotated through developing region countries, or possible travel expenses could be pooled so that everybody pays the same regardles's of where he or she comes from.

6.16. It would be useful to consider the extent to which many INGOs and other bodies are "non-territorial actors", that is, actors for which the geographical or national representation is of minor importance to their action (4 3) . There is some possibility that such bodies may be sliding into a repetition of processes (structurally very similar to those encountered throughout the history of territorial conflict) with respect to what has been termed "quasi-territory", namely the sort of functional domain which each body defines and stakes out as its special field of concern -- a domain whose boundary line is constantly called into question by changing societal conditions (44). The stress in the future may be less on the problems of national interest -coordination, which led to the formation of the United Nations, but increasingly on the problem of functional coordinations for which some equivalent global mechanism may eventually be evolved, possibly in part out of the existing INGO system, but certainly out of the three hundred to six hundred multinational corporations which it is expected will control much of the wealth of the Western world by the year 2000. Functional domains will be decreasingly fragmented by territorial preoccupations, but nation states will be increasingly fragmented by functional preoccupations. In this sense the problems of coordination would seem to be the common root concern of international relations and the policy sciences.

[Parts: First | Prev | All] [Links: To-K | From-K | From-Kx | Refs ]