Globalization, Philanthropy, and Civil Society: Projecting Institutional Logics Abroad

Globalization, Philanthropy, and Civil Society: Projecting Institutional Logics Abroad


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The essays in this book reflect pioneering efforts to study the global movement of ideas and institutions. They deal with topics of significant contemporary importance: initiatives to address the AIDS epidemic in East Africa; to protect the peoples and ecosystems of the Amazon; to advance the "truth and reconciliation" process in South Africa and in other areas of great conflict; to promote "civil society" in Eastern Europe and Central Asia; to advocate for environmental protection in the United States, Great Britain, Germany, and Japan; and to spread Rotary Clubs and encourage "social entrepreneurship" throughout the world. These essays highlight a wide range of research, paying close attention to the realities of particular situations and to current thinking about general processes.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780253353030
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Publication date: 07/01/2009
Series: Philanthropic and Nonprofit Studies
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.50(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

David C. Hammack is Hiram C. Haydn Professor of History at Case Western Reserve University. He is editor of Making the Nonprofit Sector in the United States: A Reader (IUP, 1998).

Steven Heydemann is Vice President of the Grants and Fellowship Program at the U.S. Institute for Peace, and Adjunct and Research Associate Professor in the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University. He is author of Authoritarianism in Syria: Institutions and Social Conflict, 1946–1970.

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Globalization, Philanthropy, and Civil Society

Projecting Institutional Logics Abroad

By David C. Hammack, Steven Heydemann

Indiana University Press

Copyright © 2009 Indiana University Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-253-35303-0


Philanthropic Projections

Sending Institutional Logics Abroad



Ideas move. How they move and what they carry along with them as they do have been central preoccupations for generations of scholars. Today, however, we approach these questions from a distinctive vantage point. Barriers to the flow of ideas have diminished. We are awash in evidence of their movement in everything from fashion, music, and design, to conceptions of childhood and the family, to models for the organization of states and markets. Not least, we see powerful flows among strong and often conflicting cultural movements, whether promoting individualism, the imagined restoration of one or another version of moral purity, or the expansion of the geographic areas under the sway of particular religious beliefs. Indeed, the prominence of flows and the possibilities for movement are more than just markers of contemporary globalization: they are defining elements of modern life.

Yet the flow of ideas has not acquired the naturalness or taken-for-granted quality that would mark movement itself as a hegemonic and legitimating condition of modernity. This should not surprise us: ideas have consequences, and new ideas are likely to upset established relationships and hierarchies. Ideas are today, as they have been throughout history, carriers of conflict, sources of social struggle, and objects of resistance. They are subject to incomplete accommodation between the local and the imported, and to the tensions and adaptations that such accommodations produce. As this suggests, ideas do not always move spontaneously. The role of coercion in the flow of ideas has changed over time, but can never be entirely absent. Indeed, the language of projection and diffusion we adopt in this volume acknowledges the role of ideas as carriers of political, social, cultural, and economic power of the most tangible kinds.

Moreover, despite much discussion about the deepening and the consequences of globalization, it is clear that ideas are not equally portable. On one hand, the global diffusion of similar institutional forms — whether associated with capitalism and democracy, with modes of social advocacy, with nationalism, national security, religion, or philanthropy — suggests to many a widespread decline in the range of possibilities for how we organize our lives. Institutional forms and functions seem more and more alike, in a growing number of domains. If, in the twentieth century, we experienced the emergence of the state as a "mandatory political unit," and the disappearance of alternative political forms, we are now seeing the internal arrangements of states become more similar in areas ranging from social policy, education, and labor markets, to norms of environmental protection and human rights. Movement toward a global consensus on the rights of individuals is central to many recent discussions of the growth of "civil society" or the expansion of the "nonprofit sector." In a recent paper, Alex Wendt argues for the inevitable emergence, within one hundred years, of a single "world state" providing a unitary global government. Whether this prediction is accurate or not, the extent to which states and other organizational forms are converging around a narrower and narrower set of governing norms and practices seems incontestable.

Yet the appearance of increasing isomorphism is offset by persistent and deep divergences, even within societies, economies, and polities that evidence considerable similarity when viewed at a sufficient level of abstraction. The notion of deepening global isomorphism among states, societies, and nonprofit sectors must contend with the reality that variety, division, and divergence are persistent qualities of the international system. Ideas have different consequences in different contexts, and they fit differently into varying institutional arrangements. Even where form and function seem to converge, content is often stubbornly resistant to change. We are hardly the first to point this out, but it emerges as a main theme of the essays in this book.

Global environmentalism, for example, co-exists with divergent national approaches to environmental protection. The presence of a "world culture," diffused in part through the agency of international NGOs, overlaps with highly varied local cultures that bear the imprint of the global, but are not simple reflections of it. Indeed, local cultures still dominate many areas and marginalize the "global." The spread of market-based strategies for the provision of social services, for example, has not overcome national and sub-national variation in preferences about the limits of the market, the role of the state, or the appropriate allocation of tasks among the state, market, and nonprofit sector. And, of course, the notion of the "market" is by no means simple or unitary: markets are always shaped by local laws, customs, regulations, and tax systems — and by inequities in enforcement mechanisms and inequalities in access to knowledge.

Thus although the universe of available institutions seems to be narrower, local realities ensure that the content of institutions, the meaning of institutional practices, and the relations among institutions and actors remain richly diverse. And what looks like convergence from one perspective may in practice be increasing the range of institutions and institutional forms that are accessible to individuals. The diffusion of common notions of human rights, property rights, women's rights, and the rule of law may, in practice, expand the range of legal practices that are available to citizens who are, at the same time, members of clans, sectarian communities, or other identitarian categories that carry with them alternate conceptions of law and individual rights. The experience of diffusion is not one of crowding out, as the local is displaced by the global, but of absorption, integration, layering, and, no less often, resistance.

It is critical to acknowledge that flows work both ways. It is often assumed that the smaller, "peripheral" national states and local organizations are the objects of pressures that circulate at the level of the international system. It is assumed that pressures originate with the powerful and flow "downward" to the weak. We agree that outside influences transform practices and institutional arrangements within nations, and constrain the autonomy of national governments to act in ways that diverge from global norms. Yet the reverse is also the case. States — even small states — continue to exert enormous influence on the form and content of transnational flows, and on actors such as transnational NGOs. To get there from here, even anti-globalization anarchists need passports. Historical trajectories of state formation, for instance, bear heavily on local models for the governance of private wealth. Ideas about the organization of philanthropy, of civil society groups, and of nonprofit sectors cannot be detached from their national places of origin any more than other institutional forms that are now wending their way around the international system.

These tensions between the movement of ideas and the authority of states extend inward as well as outward. As Migdal and others have noted, states have rarely managed to impose uniform rules, norms, and practices on the territories they control. Every state contends with the particular claims of regions; of distinct cultural, ethnic, and religious communities; of economic and professional interests; of families, clans, and other solidarity groups. Such forces also affect charitable practices, including conceptions of philanthropy. Similarly, no state controls its borders in such a way as entirely to isolate its territory from the influence of the many trans-state communities, ancient as well as new, that exert pressures of their own — through trade, family ties, religious study and practice, language, literary communication, and scientific exchange.

Diffusion thus goes hand in hand with — is inextricably bound up with — the process of reception. Yet here too diffusion does not define how reception plays out. In some instances, the two may co-exist in a tightly coupled system. The movement of an idea may carry with it demands that an existing institutional form or set of principles — for example, strategies of corporate governance — be replicated around clearly defined practices. In others, however, the two may be far more loosely coupled. As Ann Swidler shows in this volume, systems for the treatment and prevention of HIV infection in Africa are hybrid forms that reflect general medical principles for the prevention of disease and "Western" ideas about community action, as well as local conceptions of health and well-being, and local social and political contexts. Nonprofit organizations serve as agents of diffusion, but they also serve to mediate between the institutional logics that have shaped HIV/AIDS programs in the United States and local logics in the contexts into which they are being imported. In the following chapters, the contributors show how the relationship between diffusion and reception develops in the global movement of nonprofit organizations in particular.

There is also the question of agency. How much of what we call the projection of institutional logics can be seen as the intentional act of particular agents? The question speaks to a crucial distinction between two terms scholars have tended to elide: projection and diffusion. Diffusion suggests unmanaged, decentralized flows, movements that evoke an organic sense of voluntary adoption of new ideas and flexible adaptation by organizations. Projection hints at something that is not only intentional and managed, but potentially darker, perhaps menacing in its implications. Whether recalling the long history of invasions, religious struggles, civilizing missions, and imperial conquest, or, more recently, Fukuyama's claim that the imposition of liberal institutions is needed to address state failures in the developing world, the idea of projection connotes a very different view than the idea of diffusion about what convergence means and how it happens.

To what extent, then, are the processes considered in this book the competitive response of organizational units to changes in a larger institutional environment? To what extent are they evolutionary? How much can be explained as the result of an endless process of mutual adaptation or competitive emulation among organizations, detached from any identifiable intentionality or design? To take an example that is all too ordinary, U.S. Agency for International Development regulations demand accounting procedures that reflect conditions set out in Office of Management and Budget Circular A-133 (of the U.S. federal government). This in turn requires grantees to adopt bookkeeping procedures that demand new skills from an organization's finance staff, which requires re-tooling on the part of staff accountants, which alters the content of local training programs, etc. All of which aggregates, seamlessly and by way of the invisible hand of the bureaucracy, toward an NGO sector whose financial management, staff training and credentials, reporting procedures, and other details now look familiar to the Agency for International Development auditor during her annual visit to the field. Under conditions such as these, it appears, projection happens.

Contrast this with the conceptions of an Enrique Escobar or James Ferguson (or Henrique Fernandez Cardoso in his earlier incarnation), for whom globalization, via the projection of development norms (again, in large measure through the agency of development institutions and NGOs), is inextricably linked to a broader "project": the intentional underdevelopment, subordination, and exploitation of the Global South by the Global North. From this perspective, it is "hybridity," the capacity of local actors to appropriate global norms and endow them with local meaning and local agency, that holds out hope for taming the regressive effects of globalization.

But we need not adopt the critical perspectives of anti-globalization writers to see that projection does not simply happen, or that stories of diffusion need to be firmly anchored in causal mechanisms and a concern to establish the conditions under which diffusion is more or less likely. The chapters in this volume explore these conditions, identify causal mechanisms, and seek to chart variations in how ideas and practices are received.

Projecting institutional Logics: Definitions and Rationale

In the following chapters, the contributors focus on what we are calling the philanthropic projection of institutional logics abroad. By philanthropic projection we mean the effort to spread organizational norms and practices by means of the donation of money, goods, human effort, and ideas. The particular form of projection we have in mind is the movement of models for the organization of activities such as medical care, education, advocacy, social improvement, conflict resolution, and cultural expression. By institutional logics we mean organizational arrangements for putting ideas into action and for sustaining patterns of social relationships. The idea of institutional logics deserves consideration. It expresses the understanding that ideas, organizational forms, and social contexts are linked in ways that have both internal and external effects. It indicates that organizational forms carry with them, both explicitly and implicitly, both intentionally and otherwise, attributes and qualities that bear the imprint of their place of origin. It permits us to think about organizations and organizational flows across national boundaries in ways that are, on one hand, patterned, but on the other hand, differ significantly from one particular organization and organizational sector to another. We can thus use the notion of institutional logics to tease out the particularities that create meaningful variation among otherwise general processes like the globalization of certain ways to organize civil society groups, humanitarian relief missions, or community foundations.

Organizations, in this sense, are the hermit crabs of globalization — flexible ideas that reside within portable structures. They scrabble across national borders and drop their shells in remote settings where local inhabitants may find entirely new uses for a familiar form. There is a logic to the structure of a shell, but the structure leaves open multiple possibilities for how it might be used. In the process, the hermit crab builds a home from locally available materials. How actors that create and inhabit organizations think about what they are doing, understand what constitutes the available set of acceptable or legitimate ways to organize an activity, and imagine what they are trying to accomplish are thus all components of an institutional logic.

Contributors to this volume employ variations on this way of thinking about institutional logics. Ann Swidler, for example, views institutional logics as the "practices that structure group life" As she wrote in a preliminary version of her chapter, "by this I mean the ways cooperation, authority, hierarchies of prestige and influence, and patterns of interdependence and exchange are organized. On the one hand such patterns are 'culturally unique.' A specific understanding of witchcraft, or of the dangers that come from violating taboos related to menstruation, or child-birth, or death will not be comparable from one small group to another. On the other hand, at a more general level these do amount to institutional logics, for example, the notion that individual misbehavior can contaminate a whole group or that authority emanates from the spiritual power of a central leader"


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Table of Contents

Foreword: Social Science and Philanthropic Studies by Kenneth Prewitt

Part 1. Introduction
1. Philanthropic Projections: Sending Institutional Logics Abroad / Steven Heydemann and David C. Hammack
2. Nongovernmental Organizations and the Making of the International Community / Akira Iriye

Part 2. Projecting Logics
3. Philanthropy and the "Perfect Democracy" of Rotary International / Brendan Goff
4. Social Entrepreneurship: Success Stories and Logic Construction / Michael Lounsbury and David Strang
5. Moral Globalization and Discursive Struggle: Reconciliation, Transitional Justice, and Cosmopolitan Discourse / Jonathan VanAntwerpen

Part 3. Contesting Logics
6. Philanthropic Foundations in Russia: Western Projection and Local Legitimacy / John W. Slocum
7. Promoting Civil Society or Diffusing NGOs? U.S. Donors in the Former Soviet Union / Sada Aksartova
8. Dialectics of Patronage: Logics of Accountability at the African AIDS-NGO Interface / Ann Swidler

Part 4. Transnational Logics
9. The Political Logic of Institutional Adaptation: NGOs' Strategies Abroad / Elizabeth Bloodgood
10. Exporting Institutional Logics into the Amazon? American and German Efforts to Protect the Ecosystems and Traditional Peoples of the Amazon Basin / Sandra Moog

List of Contributors

What People are Saying About This

London School of Economics - Nicolas Guilhot

Hammack and Heydemann are filling an important gap in the literature on philanthropy, with a book that goes beyond the usual generalizations about the imposition of Western models backed by economic power or the celebration of global activism and its seamless—and disincarnated—networks of activists. The book offers important insights into the working of globalization, thanks to careful studies of institutional logics.

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