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Are expatriate staff necessary in international development NGOs? A case study of an international NGO in Uganda

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This paper explores problems and challenges in the management of expatriate staff in Northern NGOs. It finds that very little research has so far been carried out on this issue despite its importance in international NGO development work. Drawing on a recent case study of a NNGO working in Uganda, the author makes a preliminary identification of a number of key issues, which are discussed against the background of debates around changing power relations between Northern and Southern NGOs. Six key problem areas are identified: 1. the frequent changes of expatriate staff, 2. the tendency for local staff knowledge to be undervalued, 3. the emergence of structural barriers in staff relationships, 4. cultural sensitivity and awareness, 5. contradictions and lack of clarity in overall staffing policy, and 6. tensions around differences in lifestyles and living standards. The paper concludes by setting out both positive and negative arguments for the use of expatriate staff and argues that while the presence of expatriates may potentially bring distinctive benefits and advantages to development work, more careful attention needs to be given by NNGOs to the management of expatriate staff. It is recommended for maximum effectiveness in this area organisations will require a staffing policy which is consistent, transparent and can be evaluated.

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en

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application/pdf

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/29092/1/int-work-paper4.pdf

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