Empowering women through an NGO chain : Assessing development from a knowledge transfer perspective
Over the last decades the topic of microfinance as a method to alleviate poverty has been debated to a large extent in the academic literature. In India, the method of Self-Help Groups (SHGs) is today widespread among Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and has been proven to empower women economically and socially. Alongside, NGOs have increasingly directed their efforts towards more long-term development strategies, in which knowledge has gained a larger attention as a component to sustainable development. Even though literature from different research streams has confirmed that there is a need for effective knowledge transfer between NGOs to reach and empower the female end beneficiaries in the NGO-sector, few theoretical attempts have been made to understand the organizational dynamics behind knowledge transfer in an NGO-context. That is why we wished to further understand knowledge transfer in an NGO-context. Our purpose is to explore what it is that makes knowledge become transferred throughout an NGO-chain in order to reach the end beneficiaries. To answer the research question of what variables affect knowledge transfer throughout the actors in an NGO-chain and what factors determine these variables, a case study was conducted on an NGO-chain working towards SHGs in Uttarakhand, Northern India. Interviews have been conducted with leaders and staff of one foreign and one local NGO and two focus groups have been held with participants of SHGs. The findings show that several of the variables that research within knowledge management previously have found, including trust, communication, organizational culture and absorptive capacity, do have an influence on the transfer of knowledge throughout the NGO-chain. Furthermore, the variables networks, relationships, and organizational strategy were also shown to impact the outcome of the knowledge transfer. Moreover there are several factors in the intra-organizational and inter-organizational dynamics of the NGO-chain that determine whether each variable has an inhibiting or enabling effect on knowledge transfer.
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