The Strategic Choices of NGOs: Location Decisions in Rural Bangladesh1
Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) play an increasingly important role in the delivery of public services in developing countries, but little systematic evidence is available about their strategic choices. We develop two stylised accounts of NGO strategies: one in which pragmatic and organisational concerns determine location decisions, and another in which charitable motivations are the principal determinants. We then use data from the 1995 and 2000 rounds of the Bangladesh Household and Income and Expenditure Survey to analyse location decisions of NGO programmes established between those two sample years. Whether disaggregated by sector of work or mother organisation, the data show that the net change in NGO programmes in a community was not related to indicators of community need, that NGOs established new programmes where they themselves had no programmes previously, and that they did not avoid duplicating the efforts of other NGOs. Overall, the analysis is consistent with an account of NGO choices in which a concern for broad coverage significantly affects NGO choices.
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