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David and Goliath: Diaspora organizations as partners in the development industry


  • Jennifer M. Brinkerhoff
  • Derick W. Brinkerhoff
  • Jennifer M. Brinkerhoff


Diasporas are a potential resource for development and are receiving more attention from governments, international donors, and other development actors. Increasing rapprochement among these actors for the purpose of development may yield a mix of costs and benefits, depending on how it evolves. This article draws lessons from NGOs' experience; identifies diasporas' potential comparative advantages for development; illuminates limitations to their instrumentalization by these actors; and provides assessment tools and frameworks for informing strategic partnerships that can sustain diasporas' organization identity over time. Attention to diasporas as potential development actors rarely moves beyond remittances, though diasporas may embody a range of significant comparative advantages. For example, diasporans may come from the poorest, most marginalized places in their country of origin (COO), and may be the only actors with sustained reach and interest into these locations and populations. The analysis focuses on informing DOs' decision‐making with respect to strategically partnering with governments and donors to advance shared development aims. On their part, if donors and governments seek to maximize diaspora development contributions rather than rushing to instrumentalize diasporas, they would do well simply to embrace diasporans as independent partners, not extensions of their own agendas. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Jennifer M. Brinkerhoff & Derick W. Brinkerhoff & Jennifer M. Brinkerhoff, 2011. "David and Goliath: Diaspora organizations as partners in the development industry," Public Administration & Development, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 31(1), pages 37-49, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:padxxx:v:31:y:2011:i:1:p:37-49

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    1. Edward Veckie & Vlado Walter Veckie, 2015. "Importance Of Ethnicity And Diasporas As Access Gateways To Business Expansion," Economy of eastern Croatia yesterday, today, tommorow, Josip Juraj Strossmayer University of Osijek, Faculty of Economics, Croatia, vol. 4, pages 518-525.

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