Gustav Ranis, Shirley Xiong, Olivia Singer
December 8, 2012
Article number: 0000101515194000041157
The remarkable rise in the number of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) worldwide during the 1980s and 1990s has led to the need for a sober reassessment of their role in development. By the late 1990s, the NGOs’ earlier celebration as the “magic bullet” for achieving development objectives was replaced by a number of questions concerning their legitimacy, accountability and transparency, and ultimately their ability to effectively reduce poverty in developing countries. The present paper readdresses this set of questions and attempts to provide some answers based on studies conducted over the past ten years. In this context, we found that marginal improvements in the NGO impact at the country program level can be recorded. Other issues, however, remain unresolved. Finally, we offer a number of suggestions enabling these institutions to act more effectively as contributors to development. Overall, our findings suggest the need to take off our rose-colored glasses and adopt a more realistic view.