Hegemony and accountability in BRAC – the largest hybrid NGO in the world
This case study of BRAC, one of the largest indigenous hybrid NGOs in Bangladesh and possibly the world, examines how, why, to what effect, and for whom its functional and social accountability developed; and whether it furthered advocacy for its beneficiaries and a distinct counter hegemony within a civil society historic bloc or reinforced the dominant hegemony of the state, foreign donors or both. After haphazard accountability during its embryonic state, BRAC developed impeccable functional accountability to donors and the state which became supplemented by aspects of social accountability. Its attempts to be accountable to employees and beneficiaries were less effective due partly to their lack of representation on boards; functional internal accountability and controls; paternal, familial and charismatic leadership; and Bhai culture. BRAC’s attempt to be more independent by creating commercial ventures to finance its poverty alleviation programs created divisions within civil society rather than uniting it around a radical counter hegemony. The suggestion is that hybrid NGOs operating in volatile political contexts and dependant on donors and governments are unlikely to be able to fully implement holistic forms of accountability or programs of radical change though they can contribute to reformist change.