Evaluating the Impact of Development Aid: Community Projects in Cambodia and the Philippines

By Howard Harris and Vandra Harris.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Whilst enhancement of reputation is not the only justification for sponsorship, donations and local community aid, it is one reason why corporations, governments and NGOs undertake such work. This paper looks at two ways in which such activity can have unintended consequences and a subsequent adverse impact on corporate reputation. Most community development work, whether an income generation program in a large city or the provision of running water in a rural village, takes place in a situation remote from the corporate headquarters, and is heavily reliant on agents for its local carriage, and there can be unintended consequences. Recent research in Cambodia and the Philippines indicates that the funding body’s appreciation of local culture is fundamental both to organisational relationships and to outcomes for the people targeted in the work. Since relationships rather than contracts form the basis for trust in these countries, care must be taken in building these relationships at the outset, in order to ensure long-term effectiveness for all parties. When stakeholders assess the reputation of companies and NGOs they often rely on performance reports and metrics. A potential danger exists where undue or exclusive emphasis is placed on objective, quantifiable indicators. This may limit the scope and effectiveness of activities which corporations and agencies undertake, while false confidence may be engendered among interested external groups, who, seeing the numerical scores and checklists, conclude that the wider goals have been met, or not met. Suggestions are made for alternative evaluation protocols.

Keywords: Community Development, Partnership, Culture, Philanthropy, NGOs

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 3, Issue 6, pp.17-24. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 550.385KB).

Dr Howard Harris

Convenor, Group for research in Integrity & Governance, Hawwke Research Institute for Sustainable Societies, School of Management, University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia

Dr Vandra Harris

Centre for Development Studies, Flinders University, Adelaide, SA, Australia


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