A mile in their shoes: NGOs' perspectives on cross-cultural development



Katerberg, Leah

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University of Guelph


As the development/international aid 'industry' has grown in scale and scope, its increased visibility has attracted attention from critics who suggest that inadequate consideration of culture has limited its effectiveness. This study provides the perspective of Canadian-based NGOs on the issues and barriers they face in cross-cultural work, and the strategies they use to overcome them. The most dominant barriers to cultural relevance were found to be imbedded in NGOs' relationships with their donors and with their partners in the field. The research found that NGOs aim to be culturally relevant by encouraging partners in the field to facilitate much of the program design and implementation work, given the rationale that these partners better understand the local culture. In addition, NGOs recognize that donors must be educated on the realities of communities that receive their funds so that donations can be directed towards culturally relevant needs.



development aid industry, international aid industry, cultural relavance, NGOs, cross-cultural work