IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article


Listed author(s):
  • Kathryn Newcomer
  • Laila El Baradei
  • Sandra Garcia
Registered author(s):

    SUMMARY There are many obstacles to promoting learning as an outcome of performance measurement in non‐governmental organizations (NGO) social service providers, especially in less developed countries. Building upon a conceptualization of accountability as a multifaceted set of relationships through which funders, or principals, and non‐profit providers, or agents, jointly shape organizational learning, and performance, this study expands our understanding of how accountability mechanisms affect learning within service providers. This paper explores the role that funders play in shaping performance measurement, or monitoring, practices within NGOs serving disadvantaged children in developing countries. We examined the experience of service providers in Egypt and Colombia to assess how the barriers to use of performance data and learning may be addressed. We conducted interviews using the same protocols with program managers in six non‐profit providers in each country that provide services to children, and we also interviewed major donors in the arena of children's services in the USA. We probed the NGO managers' experiences with performance measurement to identify obstacles and potential solutions to improve the use of the data to promote learning. Our findings support previous research about the potential for upward accountability mechanisms to influence internal learning. We suggest that funders should be held accountable for how the incentives and disincentives they provide to grantees affect their internal learning about how to improve their services. This notion of ‘reverse accountability’ means that funders need to be strategic and intentional when they design reporting mechanisms that affect the learning behaviours within their grantees. In line with our call for reverse accountability, we offer a model demonstrating our notion of the two‐way flow of accountability and we offer recommendations to help improve the performance reporting environment for NGOs who are addressing complex problems with less than adequate capacity. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Article provided by Blackwell Publishing in its journal Public Administration & Development.

    Volume (Year): 33 (2013)
    Issue (Month): 1 (February)
    Pages: 62-79

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:wly:padxxx:v:33:y:2013:i:1:p:62-79
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wly:padxxx:v:33:y:2013:i:1:p:62-79. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Wiley-Blackwell Digital Licensing)

    or (Christopher F. Baum)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.