Corporatisation of NGOs: Is it Time to Put a Full stop?

T. V. Rao
Founder President, NHRDN

(The term NGO is used here to refer to all societies registered under the societies registration act and or with Charities Commissioners’ with a not for profit motive and includes all professional bodies like the LMAs, ISTD, NIPM, NHRDN, ISABS etc.)

In my association with the Ministry of HRD in eighties I used to work very closely with NIEPA, UNESCO and several other bodies and groups. I used to be invited as a Professor from the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad and quite often to represent corporate sector point of view. The assumption used to be that corporate sector manages itself well and professionally and educational institutions, not- for- profit organizations etc. have something to learn from the way they manage. IIMS symbolised for them the corporate sector point of view. After having been invited quite often I used to note with amusement that, on one hand they would like my presence but on the other, show tremendous hesitation in using any management systems I suggest.

I was several times confronted with the following question and comment:  “What applies and works for industry does not hold good for managing educational institutions and education systems and NGOs. Managing education, not for profit agencies (NGOs) and government is a different cup of tea. We don’t think MBO, Strategic Planning, and Performance Appraisals etc. work in Education. Please don’t tell us what we should do in Managing Education or NGOs by drawing lessons from corporate sector which is totally different game”…

At the same time they would not have any workshop without management consultants drawn from IIMs and the corporate sector. I had to go out of way several times to convince the participants and organizers that most innovations in Business came from the Education system and we are merely re-importing after the corporate world has succeeded in using the same. I had to give the history of MBO and trace it back to Benjamin Bloom’s educational objectives, draw the developments in Information Technology to B F Skinner the famous educational psychologist etc. Of course the argument always was that education is meant for development while business is meant to use the fruits of development to further itself.

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