About the Book
"This is an urgently important book. It explains how humanitarian organizations work, do their work, and why that work succeeds or fails. It also offers fresh insights into the rationality of bureaucracies—an analysis in depth written in clear, evocative prose."
Richard Sennett, New York University
Humanitarian organizations are committed to saving lives, mitigating suffering, and meeting basic human needs. They help people across all national borders, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or religion, and they provide indispensable support when earthquakes, tsunamis, war, and pandemics strike. In the face of the many regions of today's world that are undeniably urgently in need of outside aid, how do these nonprofit organizations decide which aid projects to offer to whom?
Monika Krause delves into the decision-making processes within non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and discovers a fundamental truth. Although the goal of international aid organizations is always to help people, in practical terms the focus of their work is on generating projects. Agencies sell these projects to important institutional donors; in the process, each project and its potential beneficiaries become commodities on an international "market for projects". With their efforts to guarantee success—in other words, to implement good projects—relief organizations are obliged to help those who can be helped easily and thus justify their work for their funders. All too often, those who are hardest to help—but at times most in need of aid—receive nothing at all, because the prospects for successfully realizing a project are seen as lacking. The result is a situation that seems to follow a flawed and cynical logic: the world's poorest have unknowingly become part of a competition to become a "project", while offering humanitarian organizations and government donors legitimacy as a return on their investment.
Monika Krause's prizewinning book employs the tools of the sociology of organizations to develop a provocative new perspective on the local and global successes of humanitarian NGOs—and on their failures.
Author / Editor
Monika Krause, PhD, is an assistant professor of sociology at the London School of Economics and Political Science and was formerly at Goldsmith's College, London.more