The TNGO Initiative recently embarked on a collaborative
research project with the U.S. branch of the transnational development NGO Plan International. The project aims to
assess changes in effectiveness and sustainability of Plan’s operations as a
result of the organization’s change in program strategy. By analyzing internal
evaluation documents from more than 50 program countries, the researchers hope
to be able to identify if and how development strategies, such as promoting community
awareness and participation, strengthening accountability and responsiveness of
state institutions, and fostering alliances with local partner organizations
contribute to enhanced program results for transnational development NGOs. These approaches, reflected in PLAN's Child and Community Centered Development (CCCD) strategy, encompass some RBA components.
This project constitutes the second research cooperation
with Plan International. In 2009, the TNGO Initiative conducted an intensive
six-month strategy evaluation of Plan International’s work in Guatemala aimed
at assessing the shift of Plan towards a rights-based approach (RBA) to development.
The evaluation found that rights-based approaches, as implemented by, have the
potential to be a coherent and effective framework for community-based
development work but require significant transformation of an organization’s
practices and increase the reliance on the commitment and performance of local
actors. The current project builds on these findings and aims to elaborate them
by comparing evidence from a sample of other program countries.
This collaborative research project ties in with the
initiative’s mission to conduct applied research, which helps to enhance the
work of transnational NGOs while at the same time contributing to relevant
academic debates, such as aid effectiveness or rights-based approaches to
development. The results of this project are planned to be published in
relevant journals and thereby accessible to interested practitioners and
Hans Peter Schmitz, Uwe Gneiting and Tosca Bruno-van Vijfeijken are undertaking the review; their work will be finalized by the end of June, 2011.