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The Scope of NGOs and Development Program Design: Application to Problems of Multidimensional Poverty

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  • Stephen C. Smith

    () (Department of Economics/Institute for International Economic Policy, George Washington University)

Abstract

This study addresses basic questions concerning the scope and structure of organizations working in development and poverty activities. Under what conditions is work on many or few poverty problems by a single organization warranted? Moreover, for a given organizational scope, how many issues and in what combination are best combined in a specific program? How are these choices related? How does "inheriting" an organizational structure that is difficult (very costly) to change influence choices concerning program type? The application of the economics of organization yields useful insights into NGO structure and activities, revealing opposing forces that may lead nongovernmental organizations to diversify either excessively, or inadequately. NGOs working in the poverty field are a natural focus for this research, because poverty is a multidimensional problem with potential (or contingent) complementarities across dimensions. Perspectives on activity choices such as child sponsorship and microfinance emerge from this broader context.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephen C. Smith, 2012. "The Scope of NGOs and Development Program Design: Application to Problems of Multidimensional Poverty," Working Papers 2012-7, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.
  • Handle: RePEc:gwi:wpaper:2012-7
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    Keywords

    Poverty; Development; economics of organization; Organizational Comparative Advantage; NGOs; economies of scope; microfinance; integration; specialization;

    JEL classification:

    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • O19 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - International Linkages to Development; Role of International Organizations
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure
    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance
    • L31 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Nonprofit Institutions; NGOs; Social Entrepreneurship
    • D20 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - General

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