Finance and Accounting Group
Supervisor: Dr Ataur Belal
Co-Supervisor: Professor Stan Brignall
Topic: NGO Accountability
Bangladesh is a developing country with a vast population of approximately 130 million. Given the presence of widespread poverty, corruption, inequalities and social exploitation, social accounting is believed to have the potential of promoting equality, social justice, transparency and accountability by holding organisations to account (Belal, 2004). In Bangladesh, nowadays, NGOs are playing a very significant role in various areas including education, health, poverty alleviation, gender inequalities. Moreover, a large amount of foreign aid and donations are dispersed through NGOs. As a result, these organisations play a significant role in building public opinion, creating social awareness and in policy development activities. The overriding purpose of CSR is to discharge accountability to all relevant stakeholders groups (Belal, 2002). A number of studies have investigated the stakeholders' perceptions towards CSR (Belal, 2004, Deegan & Rankin, 1997; Epstein & Freedman, 1994; Tilt, 1994). NGOs are one of the strong stakeholder groups of business organisations. Sometimes, they build public opinion regarding the activities of business organisations. For example, they raise the question of corporate accountability of business organisations as a pressure group. But very little is known about the transparency and accountability of NGOs. This study is aimed at the investigation of social accountability of NGOs. The specific research question of this proposed study is: to what extent NGOs in Bangladesh are transparent in their practice and accountable to society?
Responding to the recent call for NGO accountability my research contributes to the NGO accountability literature from the perspective of a developing country NGO. It does so via an in-depth case study of BRAC's (Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee) social accountability processes and practices. BRAC is the largest NGO in the world in terms of number of employees. It employs about 100,000 people which are more than the total of all British NGO employees. Specifically, the study aims to answer the following questions:
a) To what extent does BRAC discharge its social accountability to its key stakeholders?
b) What are the processes and practices of BRAC's social accountability to its key stakeholders?
c) How and why is this perceived and experienced by the key stakeholders of BRAC?
To answer these questions a number of research methods will be used including documentary analysis [1973-2008], interviews and field observations. This study is funded by ESRC.