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Country Concepts and the Rational Actor Trap - Limitations to Strategic Management of International NGOs


  • Kohnert, Dirk


Growing criticism of inefficient development aid demanded new planning instruments of donors, including international NGOs (INGOs). A reorientation from isolated project-planning towards holistic country concepts and the increasing rationality of a result-orientated planning process were seen as answer. However, whether these country concepts – newly introduced by major INGOs too - have increased the efficiency of development cooperation is open to question. Firstly, there have been counteracting external factors, like the globalization of the aid business, that demanded structural changes in the composition of INGO portfolios towards growing short-term humanitarian aid; this was hardly compatible with the requirements of medium-term country planning. Secondly, the underlying vision of rationality as a remedy for the major ills of development aid was in itself a fallacy. A major change in the methodology of planning, closely connected with a shift of emphasis in the approach to development cooperation, away from project planning and service delivery, towards supporting the socio-cultural and political environment of the recipient communities, demands a reorientation of aid management: The most urgent change needed is by donors, away from the blinkers of result-orientated planning towards participative organizational cultures of learning.

Suggested Citation

  • Kohnert, Dirk, 2004. "Country Concepts and the Rational Actor Trap - Limitations to Strategic Management of International NGOs," MPRA Paper 981, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:981

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    Cited by:

    1. Kohnert, Dirk, 2015. "Donor’s double talk undermines African agency : Comparative study of civic agency in Burkina Faso and Togo," EconStor Conference Papers 120921, ZBW - German National Library of Economics.

    More about this item


    foreign aid; aid effectiveness; INGOs; planning policy; development management; participation; Africa; globalization;

    JEL classification:

    • L33 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Comparison of Public and Private Enterprise and Nonprofit Institutions; Privatization; Contracting Out
    • O2 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy
    • F35 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Aid
    • L31 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Nonprofit Institutions; NGOs; Social Entrepreneurship


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