Civil Society Empowerment: Strategic Planning
The PASSIA training program on Strategic Planning was implemented during the period May-July 1998. It included lectures on the concepts of civil society in general, and its application in the Middle East in particular. Furthermore, the evolution of Palestinian civil society, its relation to the government and its role in the state-building process were discussed. The main part of the training program focused on the function, purpose, process, and implementation of strategic planning and related issues, such as project design, institutional development, and evaluation and monitoring as part of the planning process. The lecture program included case studies to elaborate the context of strategic management in Palestine and the region. This publication contains the proceedings and instructions of the training program and can be used as a hand¬book.
Ever since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA) on Palestinian soil in May 1994, the overwhelming majority of Palestinians have remained convinced that by passing through several transitional stages – involving the transformation from an ‘Intifada society’ into a civil society, the establishment of democratic structures, and the development of accountable and transparent governance – they will be able to achieve their national aspirations. Most of them agree that in order to achieve the ultimate goal – the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital - a vibrant civil society with an active role in the decision-making process must emerge, while the government institutions must develop proficiency, constituency outreach and institutional stability. This is particularly significant in view of the developing, dynamic environment prevailing in Palestine and the relatively limited resources at hand.
The PASSIA Training Programs were therefore designed to help in increasing the skills of Palestinian civil society organizations and their capacity to deal more effectively with both their constituencies and the tasks ahead. Only with trained staff and strong organizational skills will Palestinians be in a position to play a key role in nurturing a democratic society and in facing the enormous administrative challenges of forming their own system. The PASSIA project on Civil Society Empowerment through Training and Skills Development thus attempts to strengthen the professionalism of the local sectors and empower Palestinians with the knowledge and skills they will rely upon in meeting the challenge of building the various national institutions and developing a strong civil society.
The subject of strategic planning was chosen because strategic planning is a significant tool whose use will be crucial in defining future directions. Only by knowing where an institution is going will it be possible to set priorities and strategies and achieve progress. Whether an NGO or public or private institution, every organization requires sound management and supervisory skills in order to be successful and translate its overall aims into a workable strategy.
By definition, strategic planning is an effort that aims to produce decisions and practical steps that shape and guide what an organization aspires to do and to become, while taking into consideration both external and internal environmental challenges and changes.
The relevance of strategic planning in the Palestinian context – on both the civil society and government/national levels – is obvious. It does not only identify collective visions or missions for an organization or the nation as a whole, it also assesses de facto opportunities and threats to that vision, focuses on the important issues, and allocates resources (time, abilities, funds) to those activities that provide the most benefit.
Whilst preparing for this training program, we at PASSIA put a lot of thought into choosing an appropriate topic for the first writing assignment, which the participants were required to prepare prior to the actual lecture program. The topic eventually chosen was ‘Where do you think Palestinian civil society will be in five years from now?’ The idea behind this was to make the participants a) think deeply about the role, situation and meaning of civil society in general, and b) relate their findings to a vision of civil society five years from now.
To answer this question requires an examination of both the external environment and the internal factors that determine the status of Palestinian civil society. Will the political situation that exists over the next five years result in a sort of de facto situation and keep crippling the Palestinians’ political will? Will the PA still be restricted in its power and geographical range? Will the Israelis still refuse withdrawal from one more inch of the Palestinian land while their settlements continue to expand? Will society still suffer from the absence of law and social justice? Will the Palestinians still be divided between those inside and outside? Will the World Bank and the donors continue to give financial support? Will the economic situation in the Palestinian Territories continue to deteriorate? What will be the nature of Palestinian Law: do we want a contemporary, modern law that takes into account all the developments and streams in society? How should the Christian and Moslem roots be integrated? Or do we envision a Western-style law?
All the above questions must be considered when formulating a vision for the future, regardless of whether the vision relates to an organization or the nation as a whole.
In May 1999, when the five-year interim phase stipulated in the Oslo Accords comes to an end, the Palestinian leadership is expected to declare the Palestinian state. The major components of a state are there: the land, the people, an elected and recognized national assembly (the PLC), a government, and recognition. On the other hand, however, the borders are practically closed and the leadership is confined. It is against this background that our civil society will be obliged to develop over the next few years. Bearing in mind the present and potential difficulties, it is not surprising that there is currently a lack of zeal amongst so many young Palestinians – the future of Palestine – whose lives are ruled by constraints, corruption and a seemingly weak leadership. Indeed, the current situation has begun to undermine our pride in belonging to the homeland at a time when people should be making every possible effort to achieve self-reliance and the preservation of their identity.
On the organizational level, another angle should be added. In any organization, be it an independent institute like PASSIA, a health organization or a ministry, the people - the employees who work on the programs and projects - must be convinced that what they are doing is worthwhile and that the overall goal is valid in order for there to be motivation, devotion and sustainability. If someone is not convinced that the program on which he is working promises to be beneficial, then the program is not going to last. This is where the issue of credibility comes in. A project should never be carried out simply for the sake of carrying out a project or because it is a tool for bringing in funds; money is important, but of equal – if not greater – importance are ability and the willingness to implement a project and see it through to the end, regardless of any problems.
To achieve a healthy working environment that motivates everyone to contribute to our ongoing state-building efforts and meets the widely shared vision of an independent democratic Palestinian state, people’s understanding of the complexity and long-term nature of change, capacity-building and institutional development, as well as of the internal and external factors that influence the dynamic of change, must be enhanced.
PASSIA hopes that its training program series will make a significant contribution towards this end by doing the following: helping familiarize the seminar participants with existing practical methods and tools for analyzing organizations, identifying their problems, and addressing them in the most efficient and effective ways; strengthening their professional skills and relations, whilst improving their understanding of each other’s work; and allowing them to discuss current issues, problems and challenges related to civil society and institutional development in Palestine and to explore possible solutions at different levels.
1. The Significance of Civil Society in Contemporary World Affairs (I) - Western Political Theory
Prof. Hugh MacDonald
The Significance of Civil Society in Contemporary
World Affairs (I) - Western Political Theory
Prof. Hugh MacDonald
Palestinian state is an imminent creation. However disputed the immediate circumstances of its birth it will come about principally through agreement between Israelis and Palestinians, with some important input from outside. Exactly when and what will be its size and its powers are leading questions, but not my concerns here.
Palestinians, Israelis and the rest of the world meanwhile need to explore a range of questions which concern the theme of civil society: that is to say, how might a Palestinian state govern and regulate itself; and how might it be regulated by its own domestic society; how might it behave and what forces will act upon it in the international system; and, lastly, what models of civil-military relations and conflict resolution might provide useful insights for Palestine’s external relations?
Every state and society has unique structures. Every society is in important respects culture-specific. Different societies at equivalent levels of development view the world comparatively. This provides an intrinsic human capacity to actualize and transcend ‘difference’. My themes are, therefore, as follows. First, traditional Western political theory and strategic thought provide important insights for those who are engaged in the crucially important task of building civil society in the Palestinian space. Second, that a world society is emerging, in which the traditional Western-dominated international system and its rhetoric of globalization will play a diminishing role in terms of power, though both will continue to be influential in terms of ideas, technology, and capital. Third, that there are better and worse models of civil-military relations in the world, which crucially affect the affluence and well-being of entire populations; and among these it is worth considering the peace process in Northern Ireland.
Civil society and western political theory
It is pointless to define civil society as having any precise form. The shelves of the great libraries are lined with tens of thousands of works that discuss the nature of the obligations of the state, of citizenship, of the individual, and of the welfare society. Altogether these works signify a project which, over the last three millennia, has occupied the minds of all of the best philosophers and jurists, and a high proportion of political thinkers, leaders, diplomats and soldiers. But if that statement is sufficient to establish the universal importance of the project itself, two qualifications are needed to situate its cultural context.
The first is that with the rise of the West to global predominance from the 16th Century onwards, it has been a project infused and conditioned by the religious and secular sub-dominant value systems of that civilization, which have included (sometimes important contending variants of) Roman Catholicism, Reform Protestantism, Judaism, Liberalism, Socialism, Fascism, and Nationalism. The second qualification is that during the last hundred years, and particularly since World War II, the rise of mass society and the (largely reluctant) acceptance by states of new legal norms and obligations in international relations have begun to create a new context, that of world society. World society is, however, at an early stage in creating its own history, and has by no means resolved the incompatibilities of differing traditions and value systems in regions, countries, nations and civilizations which do not share the historical experience or the perceptions of universalism entrenched in the West’s contemporary approach to civil society and international order.
Entering these qualifications hopefully establishes that the significance of civil society both is and is not self-evident. But two themes of this voluminous literature stand out in importance; deserving to be examined in some depth as central and constant considerations in and following the establishment of a Palestinian state. The first is that of a contract between the authority of the state and the will of the people. The second is that of human and welfare rights.
Contract Theory and Some of Its Difficulties
The great English thinker Thomas Hobbes, writing in the middle of the 17th Century against a background of civil war and disputed legitimacy, suggested that constitutions, once made, could not be altered by popular will alone, as a sufficient condition of political change. He thus accorded to the state absolute powers to maintain obedience to law and order and in defense of the realm. He wrote that,
"During the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war; and such a war as is of every man against every man."
Hobbes was not suggesting the state can treat its people in whatsoever fashion it wants. His argument is that the essence of a state is a covenant between individuals, the purpose of which is to end an anarchic struggle for power by creating an agreed government. Once a government is established, it must have sufficient strength to protect the original contract against change imposed from within society. Commentators often fail to note that Hobbes was seeking to limit the scope for civil violence and political revolution, rather than prescribing a particular form of authoritarianism. Actually Hobbes upheld freedom of thought and pluralism of belief between and within societies. He was interested neither in the supremacy of any type of government, nor in the construction of a systematic ‘world order’, but in determining those conditions in which a political order can be sustained in the face of contending political factions, where there has also come to be a recognition of the rights of individuals to pursue their personal, disparate and frequently contending goals. The justification of the strong state therefore stems from consideration of what is needed to satisfy the want of sustainable political order:
"They that are discontented under monarchy, call it tyranny; and they that are displeased with aristocracy, call it oligarchy: so also, they which find themselves grieved under a democracy, call it anarchy, which signifies the want of government; and yet I think no man believes, that want of government, is any new kind of government."
In his work De Cive, which we would translate as On Civil Society, he showed that different peoples will have different forms of government; that there is no one form of government that is morally right or superior to all others; and that a strong state comprises the best guarantee of stability for the enjoyment of civil rights and freedoms, which could then, and only then, be enjoyed by citizens without undue interference by the state in their daily lives, and without the risk of constant constitutional revisions inciting civil war. Interestingly, Hobbes saw shared religious belief as a consolidating force within political society, though he also observed the dangers of an ‘official’ religion resulting in a repressive state:
"They that approve a private opinion, call it opinion; but they that mislike it, heresy: and yet heresy signifies no more than private opinion."
Hobbes’s thought is notable for this kind of empirical-realism. In one of his most quoted generalizations he wrote:
"I put for a general inclination of all mankind, a perpetual and restless desire of power after power, that ceaseth only in death."
Yet to see this as the entirety of what we call ‘Hobbesian logic’ is to miss the richness and complexity of his philosophy. This establishes the priority of legitimate order over that of having a distribution of power within society; it makes the state primarily responsible for the conduct of relations among states; and it abolishes the claims that the state’s authority comes from a higher source than the will of the governed, or that the purpose of government is anything more than the maintenance of a social framework within which people may enjoy their private and civil rights. According to Hobbes the issues of good government can be debated meaningfully only after, and not before, the establishment of strong government. Yet strong government is not a substitute for good government. Good government entails the maximum enjoyment of private and public goods within the framework of laws designed to maintain collective, social, security. If a ruler so far abuses this framework as to precipitate a rebellion by the people, then he (or she) has no legitimate recourse if the consequence is civil war and the transfer of power to another more acceptable ruler.
This problem of power and order, which at least since Plato has been central to the discussion of what constitutes a civil society, was answered by other modern political theorists in different ways. Most notably perhaps, Machiavelli, writing over a century before Hobbes, contended that great men make history, and therefore political morality. In so doing he drove a wedge between the components of idealism and realism which had held together in the Western tradition before him, and invented a dialectical divide between the justification of the state and the justification of rights. In Machiavelli’s scheme, civil society is the bounds beyond the direct control of the ruler of a state: he (or she) must be wary of its autonomy and independent strength; but insofar as political morality exists, its content entirely subserves the purposes of gaining and keeping political power. Indeed for Machiavelli, moral values have no independent place in politics, and those who seek to explain or to govern in the name of spiritual values are bound to fail and to bring poverty, misery and military disaster upon their peoples.
As we have seen, Hobbes tried to transcend this divide in what was for his time a novel way, by subjecting the political ideal to social regulation, while at the same time insisting on its privileged nature and primacy as part of the ‘private’ realm. We might term this attempted solution ‘the common-law approach’. It was developed and reinforced during the era of British world power by a series of pragmatic liberal thinkers and statesmen, notably including Adam Smith, Adam Ferguson, Edmund Burke, William Cobbett and William Ewart Gladstone.
Nonetheless, the divide itself was to reappear in a more powerful form and in a more thoroughly secular era following the French Revolution. The issue that provoked it was the opposition between action and thought as contending foundations of right in a context of political revolution and counter-revolution. In practical terms, how could that revolution have failed and led to such protracted warfare if its ideals were appropriate to the development of mass society; had been built on the foundations of enlightened individualism; appealed to universal characteristics of men and women; yet had been decided by warfare among states principally concerned with gathering power and imposing order in the world?
The philosophical systems of Hume, Kant and Hegel, the three greatest philosophical minds of the later Enlightenment, were preoccupied by this, the question of how to ground a moral order independently of the state. All therefore crystallized important new ideas about civil society. For Hume morals were nothing more than conventions, nor was the state. For Kant the just society could only be a republic in a republican world. For Hegel the state must through struggle become the form of civil society, which itself ideally reflects the plurality of cultures in a world that is in touch with its spirit.
The broad outcome of their different enterprises was a long-running opposition between a materialist critique, which broadly sub-divided between revolutionary and reactionary components; and a critique emanating from idealism, which broadly sub-divided between liberal empiricism and historicism.
Marx, Darwin and Spengler approximated the range of positions occupied by materialism, which was sustained by the development of economics, sociology and other ‘social sciences’. Although materialism clearly situated mankind at the center of all consciousness of society, and therefore made civil society a matter of social facts and structures, its antipathy to idealism meant a more or less unavoidable embrace of moral relativism. This was comparatively unproblematic for social Darwinians and others, who could view international wars or the class struggle within societies in a perspective of ethical detachment. But when industrial war and social revolutions threatened the steep social hierarchy of fin de siecle Europe, the intellectual shortcomings of such detachment became suddenly and disastrously evident. In such a situation Marxism, a revolutionary materialist critique, might have been expected to supply the missing answers. But though it was framed in a historical telos, Marxism suffered the same essential shortcoming of being morally relativistic.
Hence when workers of the world were faced with the claims and sacrifices of a higher socialist morality, and according to Marx’s analysis of social facts and structures were required to take decisive action against the capitalist states which repressed them, they instead followed the logic of the here-and-now, which meant, for the most part, acting only within the context of their local or national systems. Only in Russia, where power actually fell out of the hands of the ruling elites, was there a revolution. In general, the action-oriented approach to explaining political change failed; and it did so on the basis of its own in-built refusal to distinguish between facts and values. This left the state almost everywhere as the guardian of political morality in the realm of material facts, and produced a vast though not permanent retreat from the world of affairs by those of strong religion.
In contrast, the idealist spectrum was marked out by J. S. Mill, the German post-Kantians, Hegel, and the frequently overlooked French poet and thinker Josef de Maistre. The diversity of their systems illustrates the lack of any common epistemology. Yet they shared a concern - also reflected widely in the Romantic movements across Europe - to reject justifications by force majeure or unreflective action; and to formulate programs for reforming society in the direction of human ideals. Mill fits into this spectrum, though closest to Hobbes in his justification of the state, on account of his liberal convictions about the perfectibility of human nature, and the universal validity of one type of government.
It is a crude generalization to assert that, despite their intellectual and cultural associations, idealism and romanticism were alike but not akin, and hence made unsuccessful political alliances everywhere. There were notable triumphs: from the Greek independence movement of the 1820s, throughout the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Russia, and in the Italian Risorgimento. Yet in the Chartist movement in Britain, in the failed German, central European and French revolutions of the period 1848-71, in the Kulturkampf and later German parliamentary struggles, and in the Dreyfus affair in France, this broad intellectual movement which was seeking in diverse ways to discover and re-establish the absolute outside and beyond the grasp of the state, lost out in the face of other, more pragmatic, political forces.
These dominant intellectual critiques, materialism and idealism, fed the subsequent development of mass ideologies, which in the 20th Century acquired distinctive organizational features of their own. A preoccupation with ‘power politics’; an emphasis on ‘the nation state’ as the ‘natural’ framework for order and justice; a growing appetite for representative and supposedly responsible government: these were the main features of the development of domestic politics and the spread of colonialism, and its corollary nationalism, in Europe, North America, and across the world in the later 19th and 20th Centuries.
At the same time, political movements and parties became more important than political ideas. Though each party leadership paid homage to some leading thinker in the past, this encouraged - there were other root causes - the notion that the leader and the movement should become the form of the state. Only after the defeat of Fascism - a distinctively Machiavellian challenge to the consolidation of political pluralism - has there been something like a consensus that mass political movements and the state must permit a strong and autonomous social morality to exist independently of the political sphere.
Hence everywhere in the developed Western world, including Britain where the self-image of ‘being different’ remains strong, the social contract has taken on a semi-administrative form. In this, most commonly, organized groups compete for and exchange power of government through elections, while the state itself continues a strictly temporary autonomous existence, guaranteed by a constitution and managed by an administrative elite and bureaucracy that are not subject to election.
This highly complex contemporary form of the fundamental political idea of a contract between individuals who thus constitute a government, and a government which in consequence of the contract acquires power over them, has taken over three hundred years to evolve. It is an imperfect concept, subject to much contention. It has been widely challenged by other approaches to the state and political morality. It rests on the values of freedom of thought and privacy of the personal realm. It takes from, and encourages, much underlying cultural and religious organization. The experience of war, and absolutist ideologies, have done much to erect it into the most successful form of government in the world today. For all of that, its future is not guaranteed. But it is crucial to recollect that the basis of the entire edifice is this notion: that the relationship between government and those who are governed is one of reciprocity, in which the governed know, and can articulate, what the government is obligated to afford if it is to retain its legitimacy. Civil society can exist, but cannot flourish, without this.
From the Social Contract to Universal Rights
The other theme, which has always existed in the literature on civil society, is that of human rights existing independently of and in some sense prior to, any social contract between governed and government. These have been discussed through the centuries under the general theme of justice; and most particularly as epiphenomena of natural law and its secular variants. Locke, Kant and Hegel adopted positions, which subject the forms of any specific social contract to pre-existing conditions of humanity. Hume’s more radical skepticism contended that there is no ‘society’ with which 'individuals' could make a contract. In holding that social morality is conjectural rather than real, he foreshadowed much of the sociology and phenomenology of contemporary times. But opposition to social contract theory developed most effectively through 19th and 20th Century liberalism, which held that government is a necessary but voluntary adjunct to civilization.
Liberalism in political theory and international relations rose to predominance through British and later American influence in world affairs. Essentially, liberalism carried forward Enlightenment rationalism. But it added the theories of laissez-faire economics and representative and responsible government. This circumvented the dilemmas of the strong versus the weak state, and good versus bad political morals in government, by contending that economic growth and absence of war are corollaries of a common humanity. This common humanity would be constructed out of the general process of social development, which was explicitly global, but only at best implicitly ‘universal’. Moreover the Anglo-Saxon tradition of political and international theory attached a different and peculiarly neo-Marxian sense of ‘species being’ to this concept, whereas Kant and the continental idealists usually referred to values rooted beyond time and place.
As James Mayall has convincingly argued, by casually patronizing pluralism and nationalism, without having to think through their consequences, liberalism thereby circumvented the questions that the French Revolution had urgently posed, of what is and what is not universal. There were three main driving forces in this liberal-led development of mass society.
First, the state increasingly intervened in society to regulate economic affairs, most often with the proclaimed objective of improving conditions for the disadvantaged. This generated a long-running conflict between welfare economics and market economics, during which the triumph of market theories was consistently accompanied by the extension of welfare practices.
Second, international society developed norms and laws to identify and counter violations of the laws of war and crimes against humanity. The corpus of Hague and Geneva law, and more recent international legal regimes for the sea, outer space, the seabed, extend these legal regimes, though most international political and economic behavior remain and beyond regulation or legal recourse.
Thirdly, the categories of genocide, ethnic minority, and civil rights were created to explain and justify liberalism’s responses to the failures of globalization during the great wars of the 20th Century. These classifications pointed towards a new kind of ‘understood’ or ‘known law’, which harks back to natural law and (largely unacknowledged by Anglo-American liberals) to the Kantian reformulating of what inter-connects ideals and universals.
Even if this process was for a long time uneven and politically contentious, the world economic recession of the 1930s and World War II brought Keynesian economics and the welfare state to the center-stage of the most developed societies and their political systems. On top of this, the Cold War meant an ideological struggle in which capitalism needed to deliver more than its socialist alternative. In short, liberalism, until recently, simply pre-supposed the universality of civil society. The broad outcome across the world over the past 60 years, as many new states were created, has been an increase in political centralization, and in the growing powers of the state to regulate society through such economic instruments as fiscal and monetary policies.
The Dilemma of Civil Society in the Contemporary World
There is an abundance of evidence from all continents suggesting that the state can do these things justly and efficiently only if there is a strong social and political culture capable of criticizing public policies, and making public authorities accountable. If this is not present, then the governing classes, including executives in public service, tend to make and apply regulations suiting their private or class needs. Whether we call it ‘crony capitalism’ or by some other name, this represents a specific and widespread form of corruption: the illicit transfer of private gain from one group of individuals to another group through the abuse of powers of taxation granted in the public interest. As the previous discussion has shown, a traditional or modern political culture which is incorporated by the state, typically through the personal dictatorship of a predominant leader, will be ineffectual in sustaining collective or individual rights in opposition to such a state system.
The problem for civil society is, therefore, that the priorities of a strong state conflict inherently with those of human and welfare rights. Unless public authorities can be held accountable for their use of resources granted through powers of taxing and spending in the public interest, this means that the expansion of civil society, which is clearly entailed in the widening recognition and entrenchment of rights, will always lead to the strengthening of the state. This may or may not be desirable in the perspective of such rights, depending on whether a stronger state leads to a better government. Otherwise, liberalism has created an insoluble paradox in which, if good government means strong government, then it will also mean a corrupt government that plunders the public purse. This tends to be the justification advanced by military dictators in supplanting weak civilian regimes. But we have already dealt with such claims in the preceding section, arriving at the conclusion that they are circuitous.
At the same time, however, even administrative, uncorrupt, governments will not automatically deliver good government. The stimulus to sustain good government in such a system, indeed the very meaning of that term, can only come from a social morality which takes root in the values espoused by the culture, and its forms from the organizations that most effectively interface with a strong state. These may include not only political movements, but also pressure groups and interest groups.
Such groups as business and trade organizations, banking and financial services, foreign traders, other governments, multinational corporations, are adept at making representations with states. Those who are not adept include the very young and the very old; the uneducated; those who are ill or suffer disabilities; women in many if not all societies; ethnic and religious minorities; the poor; refugees; and people and groups in societies where there is a civil emergency, a civil war, or some other condition of insecurity that encourages or entitles the state to exercise emergency powers.
This brief discussion allows us to establish the parameters within which civil society can treat those matters and issues that are its own.
First, strong government may be a precondition for sustainable good government. But many strong governments are corrupt personal dictatorships, and may use popular legitimacy to serve the narrow interests of a highly organized party-state machine.
Second, good government has its own necessary and sufficient conditions. In the contemporary world these have involved, on one hand, obviating the extremes of political ideology and organization that lead, by diverse routes, to totalitarianism; and, on the other hand, asserting the reciprocity required by individuals of the government if it is to fulfil its obligations.
Third, in this century the centralized state has taken on many new obligations towards its citizens, particularly in the sphere of social and economic welfare. These entail a redefinition of rights in several respects: from individual rights to those of groups (e.g., those of pre-school age) or classes (e.g., the unemployed); from rights entrenched by common law, local custom and practice or religious provenance, to administrative law; from local and national to ‘universal’.
Fourth, the nation-state, particularly but by no means exclusively under conditions of development since World War II, has proven to be inefficient and prone to corruption in taxing and spending on behalf of society. This condition may be prevalent even in pluralistic, open, societies.
Fifth, the ambit of civil society has expanded, and continues to expand. New claims to rights are articulated, recognized, and given organized form, in terms of which the state lays down its claims to our loyalties and taxes. This development is stimulated by the growth of the world economy and transnational society.
Finally, although we are a long way from the centuries of Machiavelli, Hobbes and later thinkers in the Western classical tradition, it is importantly if by no means exclusively from these sources that we get our basic concepts and definitions of the primary state-society interface, It is a puzzle, but also a fact, that in the contemporary Western world there is little fresh thinking about these fundamentals. But this may be understood as part of the failure of liberalism and globalization.
2. The Significance of Civil Society in Contemporary World Affairs (II) - Global Governance, Development and Change
Prof. Hugh MacDonald
The Significance of Civil Society in Contemporary
World Affairs (II) - Global Governance,
Development and Change
Prof. Hugh MacDonald
To explain the puzzle described in the previous chapter, we need to look at certain features of international relations. Most importantly, we should ask these questions: how might a Palestinian state be influenced by the international system, and the contending influences of particular states and regimes; and how might a Palestinian state affect its neighbors, and act most effectively in the international system?
The Western System and Global Governance
The Western international system and its corresponding domestic values are declining. In view of the West’s enduring contributions to a theory of civil society and the state, which we discussed in the foregoing, this may seem contradictory. But we have seen that the liberal approach to the state, ‘domestic’ politics and international relations contains a number of contradictions; and that its influence rests upon, though it is not to be confused with, the ascendancy of the Anglo-American powers. Moreover, throughout history we find cultures being unaware of the imminence of decline, and decline being masked by the political complexity of major civilizations.
The estimation of decline is relatively easy. Current World Bank statistics measure global GDP at $30,000 billion. World population totals 5.6 billion souls. Of these aggregates, nearly $25,000 billion of GDP is produced by the most developed countries of North America, Western Europe, and Japan, whose combined populations total no more than 900 million souls. This huge disparity between the productivity and average incomes of a minority living in highly organized and technologically powerful societies, and the productivity and incomes of a vast majority whose states and civil societies are prone to political corruption, technological backwardness and the predatory regularity of external economic shocks, is an immediate cause of such pervasive instabilities as international terrorism against the symbols of Western dominance; the spread of weapons of mass destruction; the persistent search by other regimes to acquire such weapons; and national separatist states and movements which are usually if not always revisionist towards the status quo defined by the core Western powers.
Those Western powers, despite their wealth, find it increasingly difficult to uphold the prevailing norms of international order. Indeed in attempting to do so, the norms themselves may be violently ignored, as recently when the US sent sea-launched cruise missiles through the sovereign air space of Pakistan, en route to attacking the bases in Afghanistan of terrorist forces implicated in the bombing of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. In this contest of wealth versus numbers, and the technological versus the religious, competing justifications are being advanced for indiscriminately killing innocent and uninvolved people.
It is impossible to see how, over the longer term, the Western powers can retain their present advantages without increasingly resorting to such extreme means. But that will undermine the values which Western leaders espouse.
Even if non-Western cultures reconcile to Western values because of their ‘universality’, they will not be willing to accept the Western organized hierarchy of states once their economic strength grows to a level more in keeping with their numbers.
If the Western powers do retain their advantages, compel other states to follow suit, and prevent a global spread of technology and wealth, that will occasion ever fiercer revolts by the masses of different countries and regions against their own dominant elites, who will be held responsible for having ‘sold out’.
Given the examples of a Suharto or a Yeltsin losing power, and by doing so compelling the international banking and monetary systems to accept and pay for the failure of their grossly indebted economies, what would follow? If it becomes the worldwide realization that bankers need to lend as much if not more than the under-developed need to borrow, there could be a protectionist stampede to escape from debt, which would drastically affect all economies in the world system.
It is crucial to understand that ‘globalization’ for the vast majority of the world’s peoples today means neo-colonialism on terms no better and arguably worse than half a century or a century ago. If expropriated and given the moral force of ‘equal shares for all’, this, the self-same slogan that has justified the widening of the gulf of development between states and societies in the ‘West’ and those in the ‘South’, has the potential to justify a protracted anti-Western struggle. Let us remember, for example, that it was the adoption of Islam by the Turks that afforded to their numbers the justification, which ultimately destroyed Byzantium.
This is an argument that the West no longer possesses a dominance that is categorical, not that there is an 'inevitable' clash of civilizations. All developing states and their domestic societies are absorbing a great deal of the Western legacy of political and social values. Most developing states most of the time seek to change the status quo by peaceful competition, not by terrorism and war. Yet the precipitous nature of the economic divide between ‘West’ 'East' and ‘South’ makes it impossible for all to enjoy everyday social and economic security.
The values, which this insecurity engenders, are not those of 20th Century social pluralism as one might discover it in, say, southern California. Rather, they are the values of Machiavelli or Hobbes as these were described earlier.
In such a context, the aim of the East and South must be strong government and an increase in social possessiveness. The objects of that aim are things the Western societies today virtually monopolize: wealth, technology, military power, global influence, and everyday security. International terrorism against Western societies will not attain these objectives. Yet it symbolizes that the contest is a deadly one, and that the battleground is control within the international system.
The end of the Cold War brought about the end of the Western illusion that the end of the Cold War would bring ‘the end of history’. This widespread but misguided notion, promoted by the Trilateral Commission and other bodies, is associated with a book by Francis Fukuyama which argued that from now on political conflict would be confined to economic competition that would not spill over into bloody contests over ideas or land or military power.
How misdirected his analysis was is shown by the absence of any new international order. Indeed seven years after Iraq’s defeat in the Gulf War of 1991, Saddam Hussein remains the defiant anti-Western leader of that country. Two American presidents and two British prime ministers have fallen. The foreign policies of their countries have followed an ever more sinuous course in seeking to maintain a united front on sanctions by the international community against Iraq.
Fukuyama went on to publish a second book explaining the success of the Asian societies in building economic strength on a form of trust which, being non-contractual in the Western legal-commercial sense, saved entrepreneurs and political leaders the enormous costs of writing everything down in front of lawyers, and thus contributed to building 'social capital'. Beginning where his previous argument had ended, he claimed that, '… virtually all political questions today revolve around economic ones …"
He ended this second work with the ringing conclusion that:
"Social capital is like a ratchet that is more easily turned in one direction than another; it can be dissipated by the actions of governments much more easily than those governments can build it up again. Now that the question of ideology and institutions has been settled, the creation and accumulation of social capital will take center stage."
A couple of years afterwards, the Asia-Pacific economies crumbled under the weight of ‘crony capitalism’. The governments of those societies must now rebuild trust with their peoples, which will take quite a few years of re-modeling governments and ‘the social contract’, unless, that is, popular discontent leads instead towards a new kind of authoritarian national separatism.
It may take several years for the political consequences of the Asia-Pacific economic depression to show up in foreign policy behavior. But in the case of Russia, those consequences are now becoming clear. Russia may need the West, and its leaders echo the language of free-market reform. The society, however, has become divided and balanced between a return to reform communism and a reversion to national separatism. The Russian state plays the Western economic game, because there is no immediate alternative; but it also plays military-strategic games of its own in central and south Asia, and would do so elsewhere too if it possessed greater resources.
These cases illustrate the almost simultaneous collapse of the explanations of world events advanced by left-wing critics of the prevailing capitalist democracies, and by right-wing opponents of socialist collectivism. Clearly, communism as practiced by the Soviet-type states ruined its opportunities through inefficiency, political mendacity, and by making war against the spiritual values in social organization. Equally obvious now, unfettered capitalism and political liberalism has failed to deliver solutions to issues which were presumed to be 'global' or 'universal' only because of their temporary historical predominance.
This has resulted in a peculiar and probably temporary state of affairs in the politics of Western societies.
On the one hand there is a poverty of ideas about leadership and morality. This is shown in the loss of authority by many Western leaders including the president of the US, recent prime ministers of Japan, and their ‘client leaders’ in such countries as Russia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brazil. It is also apparent, as the references to Fukuyama’s work show, in a virtual abandonment of history as a source of meaningful interpretations of contemporary affairs. This engenders a mounting struggle on the part of interests which claim to represent ‘the moral majority’ to bring politics in Western societies ‘back to basics’.
On the other hand, there is some agreement for the first time among different constituencies of political action within the West, whether political movements, labor organizations, churches or national administrations, about the origins, development and fundamental features of the Western international system.
This is now understood to comprise a ‘world system’, which has been enlarging itself for several centuries. It is primarily dominated by Western forms of civilization, which have subjugated other often older and anyway equally original civilizations, by conquest or by other means. The system is driven by a common capitalist economic infrastructure, comprising a world society of trade, finance and growth-services. This economic sub-system has no social morality beyond that of market behavior, which, as economic theory insists, is value-free. The superstructure of the system also drives it, and comprises a wide variety of national cultures and political orders. The spread of nationalism and the nation-state idea are its most easily recognizable political features. This political sub-system is somewhat coherent, rule-bound, and possesses prominent but legally and economically weak common institutions. But manifestly there is a dichotomy within the system, between its economic and political dynamics.
The resultant clash of economic and political sub-systems requires continuous management, which conflicts with both the autonomy of economics and the autonomy of politics. In large part because of this need for a high degree of management of differences between economic and political dynamics in the system, dissimilar cultures have evolved in common the central features of the state, and the central features of a group of international organizations. Their in-built weaknesses have been subjected to a leisurely inter-state discussion of the need for reform.
It may be surprising that such a basic theoretical consensus did not exist earlier. Actually, it did not, because until World War II the Western powers competed amongst themselves in terms of exclusionary national-imperial outlooks (Weltanschauungen); and then during the Cold War there was bitter sub-division within all Western societies over the implications of the revolutionary materialist critique of Western culture advanced by Marx in the mid-19th Century. Hence, as noted earlier, there is now a rush towards the ideas of globalization, global governance, and a 'third way' between capitalism and social democracy. So what of these ideas?
Unsurprisingly, perhaps, in view of the continuing predominance of the Anglo-American partnership, NATO, the European Union (EU), and the incorporation of Japan into the Western alliance, it is an updated version of liberalism. First, there is the idea of one world at peace, and the condoning of past tragedies. Second, the idea that all peoples everywhere can gain enough that is new from what is new - in technology, in concepts of development, in a worldwide secular morality of efficient public organization - to create a global society. Thirdly, there is the belief that this proto-global society based on Western examples and structures can be strong enough to reconcile continuing national, cultural and religious differences on a worldwide basis. Fourth, there is the notion that global society can entrench universal respect for choice and difference in individual lifestyles and beliefs, and in all other aspects of what we have referred to as pluralism.
The International Political Economy and Its Perils
So, if there is a new consensus, and it is represented by a rhetoric of globalization and global governance, what does this mean - or anyhow what might it mean - in practice for a Palestinian state and society?
To tackle this question fully one would need to take account of critical explanations of the dynamics of the economic and political sub-systems in world affairs. This we cannot do here. But a few key points can be made.
At this time of nearly-worldwide economic recession, there is estimated to be 30 times more monetary liquidity in the international economy than is needed to finance the volume of visible trade. Whereas this might suggest money should be cheap and readily available, it is so only on the ‘wholesale’ markets. For consumers and savers of modest means, interest rates remain high.
Structural unemployment in most regions is high, and tending to rise, essentially because automation of production processes is leading to a crisis of over-production. At the same time, average family incomes in developing countries are too low to absorb the production surplus. It is likely that the crisis extends even beyond over-production to over-investment in plant and equipment, at least in some sectors of the global economy such as automobiles and consumer electronics. This phenomenon tends to chase investment out of fixed and into liquid forms, exacerbating the liquidity dilemma.
Currency fluctuations are difficult to predict, but in the last six years have affected every regional economy and many particular countries with great severity. The only major exception is the US, whose currency is the reserve and transaction currency of choice. But it should not be thought that the US dollar is the political currency of choice for, say, Chinese or Arab or Russian or Iranian investors, particularly if these are governments. Hence, there is an economic time bomb implicitly affecting the strategic policy options of the world’s only superpower.
But for the time being, this has meant that the American economy can run a massive trade deficit financed largely through the inflow of foreign funds. But the end of the Cold War also brought the largest ‘peace dividend’ to the US, which has been able to profoundly restructure its major industries, and to use comparatively inexpensive venture capital supplied by foreigners to launch large numbers of new ‘technology corporations’ onto the stock market.
The problem, outlined earlier, is that too much production, wealth and income is concentrated in too small a population. The rest is heavily indebted, usually faces structurally biased terms of trade, and lags in technological know-how. Yet to the extent that the handful of most developed countries monopolize foreign direct investment flows, capital markets, multinational corporations, and all the main international lending institutions, as well as the UN Security Council, countries seeking development are compelled to adopt and emulate Western models and practices.
For the Middle East this matters a lot in terms of options possessed by national economies over the coming period. The Palestinian Authority has already experienced some of these changing influences. It is likely to do so even more in the near future.
The picture for Asia-Pacific developments is deeply problematic. Japan's elites are in a condition of passive resistance against radical economic reform. Much of the rest of the region is in social and economic turmoil, and needs Japan to act more decisively. As a major investor in the region, Japan might contemplate creating a yen-zone through refinancing the collapsed economies of South East Asia. But it is inconceivable that the Japanese could quickly create a regional bloc like the EU, or a reserve currency with the strength of the American dollar. Hence any new course of action faces Japan with enormous political-economic dilemmas. Moreover, in the face of China, Russia and unstable Korea, Japan is compelled to be constantly vigilant, which adds to its sense of economic vulnerability.
Meanwhile, China has emerged from isolation with startling rapidity, but it is by no means obvious what regional and international role that country will seek for itself. For the time being the coexistence of an unreformed communist elite with an economic structure that is increasingly driven by market forces can continue. But for how long? The Chinese government has been accumulating vast overseas holdings of capital, the unremitted portion of export trade deals settled in hard currencies but remitted back to China in less valuable national currency. This gives China an important if limited stake in international economic stability, but one that is balanced by the risks of importing either inflation or deflation, depending on how it responds to the declining value of other regional currencies, and their corresponding increase in competitiveness in developed world markets.
Russia has declined so terribly in economic terms that its GDP is now said to be worth less than the annual turnover of a medium-sized multi-national corporation. Yet Russia remains a formidable military power and possesses vast natural resources. If its economy should collapse to a point where the viability of its military system was jeopardized, there could be a military takeover. Alternatively, a new government might be persuaded by the reform communists to abandon Western-style 'supply side' economic reforms, and go-it-alone, calculating that its size and worldwide importance will continue to attract support from international lending institutions.
The evolution of the EU will gradually modify the prevailing pattern of American-centered trade and monetary dominance. The Euro is likely to become a second ‘reserve currency’. European high technology companies can in certain areas challenge their American counterparts, for instance in biotechnology, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, civilian aviation or computer software/hardware interfaces and design. But Europe remains more dependent on the world economy for trade and the importation of natural resources, and lacks the political cohesion to act with one voice on strategic issues. It is likely that, in view of these underlying weaknesses, the Europeans will seek to shield their economies and fragile new single currency behind protectionist barriers, rather than risking their hard-won forms of integration in a struggle for a more open but less stable world economy.
The implications of this political-economy analysis are straightforward. Regionalism will certainly strengthen in economics. This will affect security. A world society is gradually emerging. But even if it is not destabilized by economic collapse, or war, globalization and global governance can neither explain nor cause the processes of gradual convergence that are involved. The liberal vision of one world at peace is still a distant and improbable prospect.
At the end of the day, therefore, international economic options for a Palestinian state are likely to be restricted. Alignment with one or other of the Western blocs seems indispensable, and the EU appears to be the emerging regional neighbor. Fraternal relations with Arab and Islamic states will continue to be of crucial significance to developing the infrastructure and institutions of Palestinian society. But in terms of volume of trade these are unlikely to be as significant as trade with neighbors. Trade with neighbors is complicated by still uncertain political and security issues. Presently there is a loose political-economic alignment between Turkey, Israel and Jordan, and perhaps an even looser one between Egypt on one side and Syria and Lebanon on the other. In the worst case these patterns of relations could harden, and become subject to differing external influences. In the best case, all of these states could form a 'customs union' modeled on the EU, and with much assistance from that source. But these economic alignments will be subject to the working through of defense and security issues. Useful but more distant links with China, Japan, Russia, India, Iran or other central Asian states may develop, though the absence of significant quantities of oil or gas in Palestine is likely to prove a constraint on more ambitious foreign economic relations.
Out of all of this could come a foreign policy of non-alignment. But as Fidel Castro once put it, "To be non-aligned is to be aligned with someone." Therefore the establishment of normal and even broad-based international trade and payment arrangements is unlikely to substitute for, and could make more urgent, the issue of what kind of international political alignments Palestine might have. But here we find ourselves returning to first principles: the kind of foreign relations that will prove most congenial are likely to be those which most closely correspond to the characteristics of a Palestinian state and its civil society. Broadly speaking, a strong state with an open government and a vigorous civil society is less likely to want to enjoy exclusive political or security relationships with states that are notably authoritarian, have strong national separatist movements, or sponsor international terrorism. But the converse might also be true if Palestine is unable to form normal security and trading relationships with its nearest neighbors.
The Enduring Problem of Security for a Civil Society
In the face of these difficult theoretical and practical policy issues, the world is beginning to look for answers to more specific questions about a Palestinian state. These questions include the following. Will the new Palestinian state be well governed or badly governed? Will it be preoccupied with ideas about injustice, origins, modes of behavior prescribed by tradition, and the era of armed struggle? Will it have forward-looking ideas about itself, and if so what will these be? Will its external relations with neighboring states and societies be comparatively open, or comparatively closed? Will its state-society interface be more or less stable? Will Palestinian society want the new state to be mainstream or marginal in the processes of regional development? Will Palestinian society be more or less status quo as opposed to more or less revolutionary with regard to the wider international system and the main global and regional state actors in it, including the US, EU, Russia, China, Turkey and Iran?
It may seem impractical or even unjust to tie these questions exclusively to Palestinian society in isolation from world society; or to a peace process which, given the history of conflicts in Palestine, will principally reflect the power balance between a Palestinian entity and more powerful neighbors to the west, east and north. But that, for better or worse, is what will happen as soon as a Palestinian entity achieves substantive attributes of sovereignty. Indeed already, in many of the issues which have touched on security and state-formation, Palestinians have been pushed to take responsibility for matters that are partly or largely beyond their control.
No new state in this century - and since the end of World War II over 130 new states have been created - has successfully worked out in advance answers to questions such as those posed above. Many new states have subsequently suffered civil strife or war, which (with all respect to such outstanding imaginative thinkers as Edward Said) it is only partly correct to attribute to the legacies of colonialism. In any case, acquiring sovereignty is the beginning, not the end, of the struggle for any society to define its own identity.
The risks of getting it badly ‘wrong’ are observable in many cases of continuing internal strife and external interference, particularly in Africa today. But a number of important examples of the working out of civil-military relations could be taken from other, larger states, such as India, Pakistan or Turkey. In all of these cases, in different ways, there are problems today which directly affect on one side the balance between civil society and the security apparatus of the state, and on the other impact upon international relations. India and Pakistan, having decided to invoke nuclear options, are affected by sanctions imposed by the international community. In Turkey, where the military has several times invoked its constitutional right to intervene in domestic politics, it is clear that much of the country’s foreign policy is being run by the military, even though the military is outside the government. This has had a major negative impact on Turkey’s strategy for acceding to the EU.
On the other hand the benefits of getting it mainly ‘right’ from the start are stunningly evident in the examples of postwar Western Europe and Japan, and in other cases. But it is also important to note that these were the cases in which the dominant Western powers had the most direct influence in establishing the postwar political and economic structures of these countries. More than 50 years after World War II, and in view of the problems which the Western international order is suffering, where should Palestinians place their hopes?
The most frequent story for the multitude of new postwar states is one in which the building of viable state-society relationships in a context of internal and external socioeconomic change proves difficult and protracted. As international comparisons are likely to be useful, some references can be made to a different but parallel and maybe somewhat comparable case, namely that of Ireland, where overcoming divisions and widening economic horizons has only become thinkable after the conclusion of a long chapter of armed struggle.
Conflict in Ireland and Some Implications of Its Resolution
In Ireland today we see the example of a popular revolutionary armed organization gradually coming to terms with the logical consequences of winning a limited war. This logic is that victory cannot be absolute and therefore must be shared with the former enemy. But of course political logic is not everything. Indeed the great German military theorist Carl von Clausewitz demonstrated that war has no logic of its own, beyond that of escalation to absolute triumph or defeat. Otherwise, the language of war must borrow the logic of politics if it is to have shape and coherence; or, as Clausewitz put it, if a rational means-ends relationship is to be established and sustained through the period of armed struggle and into the process of post-war settlement.
It will take at least one generation of leadership change for this logic to be followed through in Ireland. During that interlude some or all of the following features will remain salient. The Irish Republican Army (Provisional IRA) will continue to have arms and an organization to resume the forms of action it is most familiar with. The IRA through Sinn Fein, its political arm, will continue to have a popular support base, which, perhaps surprisingly, will probably remain stronger for longer in the south of Ireland than in the north. Adversaries of the IRA, including some armed nationalist, republican and religious groups, in addition to some Protestant loyalist militants, will continue in a shadowy existence.
In other words politics and government in Ireland will continue to be susceptible to risks of organized violence for some considerable time to come, maybe 20 and at least ten years. This is a personal estimate based mainly on two factors. Firstly there are the maximum and minimum time-scales for those who have been strongly socialized into violent inter-communal conflict to experience sufficient peaceful change for their attitudes and activities to alter. Secondly, there is the probability that socioeconomic change under new conditions will itself generate some new causes of inter-communal political tension and reinforced nationalisms (e.g., perceptions of winners and losers).
Nonetheless, with the British and Irish governments in fundamental agreement, supported by the US and EU, an aspiration for peace, reconciliation and shared economic development among the conflicting Christian communities is most likely to prevail. This should translate itself gradually, by specific performance of agreements and acts of cooperation, into the actuality of an Ireland unified through economic integration rather than by the triumph of military-political will.
In this new and not yet well-formed civil society in Ireland, which will most definitely develop cross-border structures expressing the growth of cross-border transactions, future constitutional arrangements will remain open-ended for the time being. Any new constitutional arrangements, beyond those specifically agreed in the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, will need to come about through Protestants and Catholics deciding that what gives them the possibilities of sharing an identity in terms of the part of the world they live in, namely the island of Ireland, is at least equal and maybe superior in importance to their existing religious-national identities. Let us note, here, the significance of some history:
Modern nationalism in Ireland was initially led by Protestants and remained cross-religious and pan-Irish until the 1880s. The north-south divide in Ireland was strongly associated with the rapid industrial development of two major cities in the north, Belfast and Derry, where Catholics and Protestants were forced to live closely alongside. The British preference from around 1880 was to return Ireland to unified self-government, which would have provided at least the same conditions for future national independence as in, for example, Canada, where Protestants and Catholics of Irish and Scots descent prevented their religious differences from determining the shape of the state. The 1921 partition of Ireland, which originated civil war and subsequent periods of armed struggle by the IRA, has always been stated in UK legislation to be dependent on the will of the majority living in Northern Ireland.
Despite a long history of violent struggle between Catholics and Protestants in Ireland, most of the peoples of contemporary Ireland, including those who migrated to the US, Canada and elsewhere, see themselves as sharing an identity - expressed most clearly in music, poetry and literature - that they do not share in the same way with other peoples of the British Isles. At the same time, society in the UK and in Ireland has continued to be interdependent, influenced by economic conditions, much shared history, a common language, similar political institutions, parallel membership of the EU, etc.. Moreover, there is a secular trend away from religious extremism and violence among the younger generations across the communal divide in Northern Ireland, and between north and south in Ireland. This convergence has been based on superior civil rights in the north and growing economic prosperity in the south. Gradually, therefore, society in Ireland has been emerging from a religious cocoon.
In all of these terms the importance of peaceful, organized, competitive persuasion and popular political choice will most likely gradually displace the 70 years of intermittent armed struggle and conflict between Protestants and Catholics and, indirectly, between Britain and the Irish Republic. But this will not, and cannot, happen overnight. Nor will it happen entirely naturally. There is no natural bridge between war and peace. Even when a bridge is built, as with a peace agreement, it may be fragile. Even when it is crossed there may be those who want to go back. With ongoing socioeconomic change flowing around the bridge like the current of a strong river, there will be risks of a collapse. This will encourage opponents of change and those with a nostalgia for war to await opportunities to destabilize the emergent new structures.
Towards a Definition: Civil Society Today
What is meant by civil society and why it matters in contemporary world terms may now be clear. It is a form of society that is contrasted with, and juxtaposed to, war, military society, armed struggle and the logic of absolute victory. Rather, it is committed to a self-image of peaceful internal change and social tolerance, and to external relationships rooted in commercial transactions and conflict resolution. But of course I am also showing that such a model of civil society is not self-sufficient, or immune from external conditions.
Each civil society must, on the one hand, prepare itself to be somewhat vulnerable and interdependent. England was hurt several times by military activities by the IRA in recent years. It is interesting to consider why the IRA chose to focus its operations in the most secular and pluralistic middle and south of England, but not in the more religiously divided north, or in Scotland. Yet despite the fact that tens of thousands of citizens of the Irish Republic live and work in London and the south of England, and that Irish companies have sometimes been used by the IRA to transport weapons and explosives, or to provide intelligence and launder money, there were no civil outrages against this technically foreign minority. The British government encouraged no intolerance. Irish clubs and societies were free to organize and to espouse the cause of Irish unity. In the city in which I live, parts of Oxford University and a number of the pubs and clubs in downtown Oxford have long been closely associated with Irish republican nationalism. Even in the times when British soldiers were being killed in Northern Ireland, these events could be cheered in such places. It takes a strongly entrenched practice of tolerance for any civil society to encompass and remain stable in the face of such differences of political identity.
On the other hand, each civil society must know how to protect its core values against violent disruption or other forms of corruption. As well as removing self-government from the province of Northern Ireland in 1974, introducing anti-terrorism legislation, and using the army in large numbers to support the civil authorities, the British state has waged an active secret war against the IRA and its international sources of support. We do not yet know much of the detail of this, but assuredly at times it involved considerable dilemmas of civil-military decision-making, as when the military advisors recommended internment by the army of all suspected members of illegal paramilitary organizations, but based their planning on faulty intelligence data drawn up by the largely Protestant police force, the Royal Ulster Constabulary.
Since the end of the Cold War we have seen Russian society becoming prone to violent crime, corruption, the organized Mafia, and other activities that were held in check by the old Soviet system. The consequences have not been confined to Russia. Not far from the main Palestinian centers, some of the 900,000 economic migrants of Jewish origin who fled Russia and other parts of the ex-Soviet bloc have brought these problems into a neighboring society, and they affect also societies in the Gulf and elsewhere whose economic relations with new countries in the former Soviet bloc have increased.
Clearly, transition processes in these former communist dominated countries have stressed economic reform at the expense of socioeconomic stabilization of civil society. The costs of that short-sighted priority will have to be borne by numerous quite vulnerable societies for a long time to come, as well as by the desperately unfortunate people of Russia.
What is being argued is that in some respects civil society must structure itself to be vulnerable to visible challenges that challenge its tolerance and self-identity, because vulnerability is a necessary condition of openness, and openness is indispensable to a strong civil society. In other respects civil society must structure itself to be invulnerable to threats that are non-specific, or that may stem from unanticipated changes in its environment or its own society.
This difficult problem of organization is not about moral vision in the first instance. Rather it is about the sensible and robust partitioning of responsibilities between the civil power, which must command and control the police and ensure that they answer initially and fully for their actions to the courts and legislature; and a professional military-security establishment which must be imbued with an ethos of serving the state that will mean, in all but the direst emergencies and contingencies, obeying the legitimate government and duly constituted civil power. In return for this loyalty, the military-security establishment is entitled to expect that the confidentiality of its normal operations will be shielded by the civil government from the full rigors of legislative oversight and accountability. Of course if this privileged position is abused and the military becomes corrupt, or intervenes habitually in domestic politics, then the character of the state and its relationship to civil society will alter. The most likely sacrifice will be openness of political endeavor and organization.
We can observe many cases and variations along this spectrum. Obviously the geopolitical position as well as the political culture of a state may shape its state-society interface. The presence or absence of threatening neighbors; or, conversely, the influences exercised by allies, which are not always benign, can crucially affect the scope of civil society.
In today's world, therefore, as Hobbes argued more than 300 years ago, there is no single, ideal, form for civil society, or for the shape of this partition between the civilian and military-security arms of the executive power. Rather, this interpretation of his work in contemporary conditions points to three factors that will matter most during the creation of a Palestinian state. The first is the initial constitutional arrangements and the associated development of a specific, national, political morality that stipulate what should be the relationship between state and society. Second, civil-military relations can never be easy: in facing major security dilemmas, the nexus of security between state and civil society requires mutuality and flexibility. Last but certainly not least, whatever documents and laws say, it is the spirit of a people to possess or not to possess an open society, to which they belong and which belongs to them, that is the true catalyst for the quality of a state’s government.
3. The Concept and Evolution of Civil Society in the Middle East: Experiences, Prospects, Constraints
Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim
Introduction and Definition
In the following, I am going to discuss the concept and evolution of civil society from two angles. First, I will outline my understanding of civil society. This will include the relationship between civil society and what I call "the third wave of democracy", the relation of civil society to the new concept of social capital, and the beginnings of civil society, not only as a concept but also in reality. In doing so, I will focus on the Arab experience of civil society, covering the period from pre-modern times - meaning pre-18th Century - to the new Arab state and its relationship with civil society, i.e., the difficult birth of today’s civil society, which is coming into its second existence.
Secondly, I will look at the controversial issues surrounding civil societies, i.e., the place of religious movements, primordial organizations (family, tribe, etc.), and non-democratic organizations in civil society, as well as whether our values and traditions, history and uniqueness have any bearing on civil society. Furthermore, I will discuss the zero-sum game with state, i.e., whether a strong civil society takes from the state and vice versa, and finally civil society and the state in the age of globalization.
I define civil society as "a set of values, norms and organizations, which emanate from the free will of individuals in their pursuit of an interest, a cause or a quest to express a collective sentiment."
A value is a goal, a norm is a means to attain that objective. Free will is a very important element in the definition of civil society. The core value of civil society is liberty and tolerance is therefore a norm, i.e., the norm with regard to achieving liberty is tolerance, acceptance of diversity.
The Relationship Between Civil Society and Other Important Developments in the World at Large
The Relationship Between Civil Society and the Third Wave of Democracy
The ill-famed Mr. Huntington, who otherwise ought to be tried and lynched for his infamous book on the clash of civilizations, actually did some very good writing. In an earlier publication, The Third Wave of Democracy (1990-91), he talks about a worldwide phenomenon of democratization, witnessed in a number of countries in recent decades. The world, according to Huntington, has gone through three waves of democratization:
The first wave started in the late 18th Century and ended at the beginning of the 20th. In this period, which included the French and the American revolutions, 15 or 16 countries developed multiparty systems and democracies that came to be known later on as a ‘Westminster type of democracy’.
The second wave started in the 1920s and ended in the early 1960s when it was halted. Some 30 countries democratized during this period.
The third wave started in April 1974 with the event of the Portuguese Revolution as a symbolic date. Very quickly Portugal was followed by Spain, then Greece, Latin America, East Asia, South Asia and Eastern Europe. Between 1974 and 1994, some 60 countries democratized.
Huntington, however, does indicate that there have been reversals in some countries. That brings me to the Arab World. Some Arab countries have participated in all three waves. Egypt, for example, had its first democratic experience in 1866, when Khedive Ismail, opening the Suez Canal and having invited all the dignitaries from Europe, wanted to appear modern to the world. Having studied in Europe himself, he started building European-style districts like Zamalek and Garden City. These districts were built very quickly in preparation for the opening of the Suez Canal, with big boulevards and 19th Century Parisian and Roman-style buildings. Ismail also built a modern opera house and contracted the most famous European composer of the time, Verdi, to write what came to be known as Aida for its opening. Then he learned that modernization requires a parliament, a democracy, so he built a parliament and held the first elections for deputies. He instructed his advisor Sherif Pasha, who had studied in Europe, to tell the deputies to appear like good parliamentarians when the dignitaries from Europe arrived. Sherif Pasha congratulated the new deputies on being elected, and told them that in Europe, the people who support the government usually sit on the right, while the opposition sits on the left. Consequently, everyone rushed to sit on the right - how could they even think of opposing their leader?
By 1876 those same people had become ardent opponents of the Khedive and the corruption that prevailed at the time to the point that the Khedive wanted to disband the parliament. He ordered the parliament to be dissolved, but the deputies refused and staged a sit-in, saying they would never leave the parliament unless dead. Mulhi Bey, who had been reading about the French Revolution, invoked the memory of Mirabeau. That very parliament that started as a rubber-stamp and was basically decorative, tells us that it is worth while to continue criticizing and never despair, because no matter how theoretical things appear, once they are taken seriously, they will strike roots and take a life of their own.
Egypt’s early experience in democratization came to a halt with the British occupation of Egypt in 1882. The first wave, like so many things that started in the Arab World, was short-lived because of European invasions and interference.
Civil Society and Social Capital
Social capital means all the arrangements made by individuals and groups, informally or formally, to enable the members to accomplish things. The central value here is trust. Any arrangement that people engage in, based on trust, to help individuals get things done, is called social capital. Although this is very ambiguous and hard to measure, it nonetheless can be measured and the measurement is being refined every year.
Many sociologists and political scientists - among them James Coleman, Robert Puttman, and Frances Fukama - have referred to this concept in their attempt to explain why certain societies have done so well economically, although their resources appear to be similar to that of any other society. In all economic models used to explain the variance at the end, there was always a part left that could not be explained by the amount of investment or the productivity of labor, or physical and human capital. Some people then tried to explain the phenomenon by field investigation and they came up with the concept of social capital.
It was dramatized in a comparison of North and South Italy: the government was putting more investment into South Italy, and yet North Italy was always advancing faster. Robert Puttman, who spent ten years studying this phenomenon, suggested that it is civil society that makes the crucial difference. In Making Democracy Work, published in 1992/1993, Puttman applies Coleman’s concept to North Italy and finds that it explains why it is different to the South. Others, like Frances Fukama, added the word ‘trust’ and applied the concept to South and East Asia (Singapore, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Korea). His findings reinforced the idea of social capital and have been used as the explanatory factor for the distinct success of the so-called ‘Asian Tigers’.
In the 1990s, many new concepts evolved that try to explain development, such as participation, civil society, social capital and trust. These concepts are all interrelated and are the latest additions to the arsenal of development literature.
The Origins of the Civil Society Concept
The word civil is derived from the root ‘civicus’, indicating a diversity of people living together peacefully (‘city’). The city represents a qualitative evolution from what initially was a small, primary, heterogeneous community, where everybody did basically the same thing and where solidarity, was based on similarity. A city has both diversity and organic solidarity, based on mutual interdependence. This is the beginning of civil society.
Civil society, therefore, is connected to the urban community and implies the coexistence of individuals who are able to find ways of resolving differences and disputes. As such, civil society can be traced back to the beginning of the city, the metropolis and its diversity. The idea as a concept along with the ‘social contract theorists’ appeared in the 17th Century. The basic notion is that solidarity is a contractual relationship, between individuals or between different groups, or between groups and the state. In the 17th and 18th centuries, it was fashionable to talk about the social contract and it was then that Locke, Hobbes and Rousseau all developed their own conceptions of civil society. While Hobbes argued that once a state is formed, it is supreme, Locke, Rousseau and other libertarians believed that the state must always be held accountable to civil society.
Conceptually speaking, civil society has the following three ancestral traditions:
The social contract theorists (17th-20th Century) Locke, Rousseau, Weber, Puttman, Fukama and others, whose idea is that civil society is the product of free will, that part of that free will is the formation of the state, and that the state, therefore, has to remain accountable to civil society.
The second tradition is based on the idea that the state is formed by the initial free will of the people, but once the state is in place it reigns supreme, and everything is abdicated to the state. This notion runs all the way from Hobbes to Fascism, populism and Arafatism.
A third conception is represented by Marx and Gromschi, who make a distinction between the civil and political societies: whereas civil society influences indirectly through social formation, the political community is the state, the police, the naked aspect of domination.
The Application of the Civil Society Concept to the Arab World
How does this relate to the traditional socioeconomic formations in the Arab World? A look at the traditional Arab city before the 18th Century gives a first idea. There was a state from the time of the First Constitution of Medina, which was a contract between the Prophet Mohammed and the Muslim community of Medina on the one hand, and the non-Muslim groups (Jews and Christians) on the other. It specified that in worldly affairs everyone is equal and has the same rights and duties. Elsewhere, each person is answerable to God. That was the beginning of a social contract of a civil society that recognized diversity, in this case diversity of tribes and religions.
The Arab/Islamic state has known civil societies of sorts and contractual relationships – and with time, evolved into more crystallized social formations, the merchants, the ulema, guilds, sufi orders, etc. These all lived in the city, which was characterized by a diversity of religious, ethnic, and professional lines. Sometimes different quarters were named after the particular guild working there (e.g., Al-Nahassin, Al-Najjariin), sometimes according to its ethnic base, e.g., Haret Al-Yahud, or Haret Al-Nasara. Usually, the authority would put together what is called Ahl Al-Hal w’Al-‘Aqd (specialized group to solve disputes) from among the leaders of these groups, who then would function as the mediators between the rulers and the community at large. These groups also included the local notables and tribesmen, who were called on in important matters, such as preparing for a battle. Although they were not a parliament as such, they were nonetheless a very important medium between the ruler and the ruled, and would convey the grievances of the ruled to the ruler. Sometimes, of course, the authority was tyrannical and would not pay any attention to the Ahl Al-Hal w’Al-Aqd, in which case the latter would wash their hands of the affair, lead the crowds against the ruler, or welcome someone challenging the ruler from outside. Ibn Khaldoun has elaborated on this very interestingly and suggested a cycle in which the rise and fall of dynasties can be explained. He defines the relationship between Bilad Al-Siba, the hinterland, and Al-Maghzam, the civil society.
These features of the traditional Arab society had come to an end by the time of the Napoleonic expedition to Egypt in the late 18th Century, which also marked the beginning of the age of modernization. The equilibrium of the traditional society began to disintegrate, and it took all the 19th Century to find a new equilibrium with modernizers, such as Mohammed Ali in Egypt, Barud Basha in Iraq and Hir Al-Din Al-Tunisi in Tunis. There were others, but these were the main three, who made state-building efforts and who tried to modernize the education system, etc. All these processes brought out new classes, the two most important of which were the new middle class and the new working class. The new middle class basically inherited the Ahl Al-Hal w’Al-Aqd, the notables, while the new working class inherited the guilds. Out of these two social formations the ‘modern’ civil society in the Arab World developed. By 1821, the first non-governmental organization (NGO) was founded in Alexandria and that new kind of organization rapidly mushroomed in Egypt, Syria and Palestine, where the number of NGOs increased with the Zionist influx. In fact, with foreign occupation NGOs begin to replace the nation state and to perform some of its functions. In Palestine, especially after the 1967 Israeli occupation, NGOs took over such roles in the absence of a national government and rendered virtually every service to the community.
With the new classes, their syndicates, trade unions, student organizations, charitable foundations, etc., emerged, grew and built an entire civil society network. NGOs also played a crucial role in the early stages of the struggle for independence, and many of the people who actually struggled were those who also formed NGOs: Talat Harb and Saad Zaghloul in Egypt, to name but two. Cairo University, for example, started as a NGO and was only taken over by the state after independence in 1923. All the great institutions in Egypt in the late 19th and early 20th Century were originally NGOs, initiated by civil society.
In the Liberal Age, after independence in Syria, Egypt and Iraq, the same leaders who had fought the colonialists were the ones who had founded civil society organizations; thus, they gave a lot of room to civil society. Then there was a phase of military intervention in politics, in which the ‘populist state’ emerged, which is only a polite term for ‘despotic’. The populist state had a very patriotic and ambitious agenda that wanted to unite the Arab World, bring social justice, liberate Palestine, and industrialize rapidly. This impressive list of objectives tantalized the minds of the Arab masses, who where willing to pay the small price for these big promises by suspending democracy for a while. They rallied to the populist social contract because it was initially very alluring and impressive, and the banner and slogans were carried by a very charismatic leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser. For the first ten years, the populist state tried to accomplish its goals; it had credibility and the people were sincere about it. With the unprecedented defeat of the populist Arab states in 1967, however, the people had a dramatic, traumatic experience, which made them question the populist social contract. In the middle of their seeking answers and demonstrating came the 31 March declaration calling for the social contract to be revised and for democracy to be granted. The contract was worded very carefully: for example, it stated very symbolically "We will grant democracy as soon as the occupied territories are liberated". In Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, and others this kind of paradigm was soon adopted. The populist state, by suspending democracy, stunted civil society; the state was going to do everything, so there was no need for civil society. This was a big mistake: the state can never do everything, and can never do certain things as good as civil society. The state can never render the same services as cheaply as NGOs can; on the other hand, NGOs cannot do everything, and there are things they cannot do at all. Both the government and the civil society organizations must mutually recognize that there are certain things best done by one of them.
In the 30 years since 1967, we have seen a - sometimes disorganized - retreat of the populist Arab state, especially on the social front. Since it retreated without plan or system, the casualties were high: poverty and unemployment increased as the state began to give up its functions as the main employer and service provider without, however, informing people of its intention, and thus, carrying on the same promises without delivering them. People slowly began to realize that they will have to do things themselves and that is when a new wave of NGOs and civil society organizations emerged, a trend that has continued since the 1970s. Other factors that contributed to this were the increase in the level of education and increasing financial resources of individuals working abroad or in the private sector. There was also the inability of the state to remain as despotic as it was; some Arab individuals took advantage of the loopholes in the despotic structure of the state, and utilized the margin of freedom to start their own NGOs.
Civil Society in the Middle East of Today
A strong civil society is crucial for the creation of an intangible infrastructure, for development and democracy. Increased participation and promotion of participation in the public sphere is a precondition for a well-functioning civil society. The following table illustrates how a society moves strategically from civil society to democracy and then to development: the bigger the proportion of NGOs to the population, the stronger is the civil society:
There are examples of civil society in non-democratic countries but I believe that democracy and civil society must be related, especially in the Arab World. In the last 30-40 years every calamity we have witnessed was brought on by a despotic, unaccountable ruler. The despotic ruler, even if he has the treasure of Harun, will disappear in the end. Society that is voluntary and based on liberty should be the main unit of analysis, not the state.
There is no absolute democracy as human affairs know no absolutes; there is only one, God. We are talking about processes that have beginnings, but no ends: a process of liberation, a process of education, a process of democratization, etc. It is like raising a child: it takes a lot of nourishment, there is no absolute formula, every child is ruled differently even if they have the same parents, and by the time the parents expect the second child they have accumulated experience from the first. There are no fast rules, although there is a direction, logic and a spirit. Civil society teaches tolerance and acceptance of diversity, and by working in an NGO one learns all the things required for statehood: how to plan, how to budget, how to spend money, how to pool resources together. Thus, someone who has worked in an NGO, and then gets elected to the parliament will be a better-prepared member. It is in that sense that civil society is the infrastructure.
In Palestine, we are witnessing the emergence of a new state that has to define its relationship with its own society, which is very complex. Had there been no tradition of civil society, then would not have been a report into corruption. Civil society puts a ceiling on how much corruption can be tolerated, and the Palestinians showed that they have a very low level of corruption tolerance. Due to their NGO tradition, Palestinians are in fact the best prepared for democracy among the Arab states. However, the draft law for NGOs the PNA was discussing is copied from Egypt’s 1964 Law, which is a disaster. Should that law be passed in Palestine it will suffocate the NGOs. All that is needed is a law that informs the government that this and that organization has been established. The right of free association should be on the top of the agenda.
There is always a temptation on the part of the state to try and control NGOs and, as a consequence, GNGOs emerge: governmental non-governmental organizations that are an extension of the government. These are different from officially elected bodies, which are somewhere in between civil society and political society or government; they are like mediators, above NGO-level and with local authority.
Civil society is a network of all the different organizations that have been created voluntarily, of their own free will. However, an NGO may have started on a voluntary basis and then developed an autocratic leadership. This is typical of many countries going through a phase of national liberation, an armed struggle. If the organization’s creation was for the aim of national liberation, then the leadership will remain as long as it takes to achieve that national liberation. The fact that something is a part of civil society does not mean it is all good, nor is everything that is not part of civil society necessarily bad. Families, tribes, sects and clans are not part of civil society, they are all involuntary; for example, one does not choose the family one is born into.
The ideal combination would be that of a strong civil society and a strong state. Switzerland is a good example: many people, including the Swiss themselves, do not know the name of the Swiss President. This indicates that society is working without a state figure imposing himself, or the state is functioning without people realizing it, unless they are violating a traffic light, for example.
Lebanon and Kuwait are interesting examples of civil society in a time of crisis. During the civil war in Lebanon the state nearly disappeared, as did the state in Kuwait in 1990 in the space of six hours. In both cases it was civil society that took over and maintained the society. In Kuwait, the Food Cooperation Council, which looked harmless to the Iraqis, took on shadow-government duties and even managed the cleaning of the streets. In Somalia, on the contrary, there was no civil society to take over when the state disappeared; there was a famine because the society disintegrated for the lack of viable NGOs.
In the Arab World, people are always promising the lost paradise and listen to false messiahs. It is time to learn and use history as a reference point. People need a space of freedom within which they can set their agendas. One should be wary of those who say "This is the National Agenda." If there is freedom, tolerance and participation, then people will have their own genius. No one would have thought in 1987 that the Palestinian people would perfect that popular genius that no one else had achieved. No one could have expected the kind of resistance that we saw in Lebanon - it was not the state, it was the people. If people have freedom, then they have the space to think and resolve problems.
In conclusion, I hope the Arab states will be able to catch the third wave of democratization. The current situation in the Arab World is still a far cry from democracy, out of the 24 and a half countries, half have pluralism. In 1983, when we wanted to hold a conference on the crisis of democracy in the Arab World, not a single Arab capital would let us hold it there, and in the end we went to Cyprus. Yet in 1998, at least half of the governments are pluralistic, so there is some reason for optimism.
4. Governance, Civil Society and State-Building in Palestine
Dr. Salim Tamari
Much has been said and written about the issue of state-formation in Palestine, but most of it has been obscured by the use of clichés and comparison to situations that do not apply here. In Palestine, we suffer from an excessive ‘assumption of uniqueness’ regarding our colonial experience, which is widely considered as incomparable to similar situations elsewhere.
Of course each particular situation is unique in its way; but social scientists have to examine each one in a wider crucible. The question is how our experience fits into other formations in the post-colonial experience and what differentiates the Arab colonial and post-colonial experience from that of India or Pakistan, for example.
It has been claimed that the dispossession of the Palestinian people took place in such a unique manner that it cannot be compared to the cases of South Africa or Algeria, etc. Nonetheless, the task should be to examine the processes in other countries and understand what is happening here. Instead, the discussion is clouded by polemic and is full of controversies. Questions are constantly being raised about the PA and its status, its sovereignty and validity. Do we have a state or not?
The center of controversy between the defenders of the process of state formation on the one hand and the opponents on the other, revolves around the idea of restricted sovereignty; one which, the defenders say, creates a geographic terrain that allows Palestinians to build up their shackled economy and society so that they can launch the process of the struggle for sovereignty in the forthcoming negotiations. The critics, on their part, say that we have sold ourselves too cheaply and ended up with a non-economically viable entity that suffers from total physical encirclement and economical and political impositions that basically add up to an occupation that despite having no physical presence, is still very much alive. Moreover, the PNA, by performing a police role has just taken over from the Israelis and brings with it the whole bad psychological experience.
While this kind of criticism is legitimate, I want to address issues of state-formation that are related to civil society in particular and different from the issue of sovereignty and the deformed character of the state. I am basing myself on the assumption that an apparatus of government does exist in Palestine, relatively autonomous from Israeli interference and that of other Arab countries.
The process of state-formation that the Palestinian leadership undertook led to the formation of a new hegemonic governing class, consisting of the leading expatriate PLO cadres, expatriate businessmen, who became partners with the public sector, local and regional elites, and co-opted elements of the local parties and leadership from all the resistant groups into its structure. The PNA has created a state apparatus, which although lacking in the juridical aspects of sovereignty, still has the symbolic trappings and international recognition, which would be difficult to undermine or retract, if, say the Israelis attempted to cancel the phases of the Oslo agreement that granted autonomy to the Palestinians. These are important assumptions and can be questioned, but here, they will be a starting point.
Interestingly, the challenges from the traditional opposition parties - the PFLP, DFLP, the Communist Party and others - to this new hegemonic leadership have been easily defused by a combination of co-optation, appointments, appropriations and mild repression and by a process of self-exclusion of these groups. They opted for not getting involved in the process of state-formation; one example is the decision of the PFLP and DFLP not to be part of the election, although elements of these opposition groups wanted to join the process of governance. Eventually, they boycotted one part of the process of state-formation, but joined it at a later stage. Only HAMAS has proven to be too formidable an opponent to be subject to these mechanisms of co-optation, and was therefore subjected to a strategy of attempted dialogue, followed by direct repression when that dialogue did not lead to the desired results.
There is a different set of challenges, which are significant and crucial in shaping the nature of the Authority. These are,
The opposition forces in society - some of them institutions, some in the embryonic stages of crystallization – that took the shape of mass organizations during the Intifada. Many of these became NGOs and were identified, perhaps with some exaggeration, as the essence of civil society in a society lacking a state apparatus, and then became institutional alternatives to the state when the Authority was established.
The conflict between the private sector and monopolies and cartels that undermines the viability and competitiveness of local business. The point here is the manner in which cartels and monopolies are established by the State, whereby it appears that they are partners to the private sector, but in fact that sector is actually a monopoly. Examples are the cement sector, the construction sector and telecommunications: while quasi-public companies exist, they actually function as a private concern. Since they are not subject to any contestation from the private sector they have total control over price-fixing and are fairly unresponsive to public pressure, until they are attacked in the press. Then it is left to the eternal tension between the government bureau in charge of that particular concern and its desire not to be exposed as a monopoly; but this is at the moral level of operation. The tension between the entrepreneurs from the private business sector and the public sector, in which the government is a basic shareholder, is an essential institutional conflict in the body of the PNA.
The determination of the relationship between the party and the state as reflected in the recent attempt of a Fatah activist to insist on the autonomy of the party in the state apparatus. The State of Palestine is supposed to be the state of all the people, based on a pluralistic constitutional arrangement, in which all parties are free to compete. However, because of the historical experience of Palestine and the withdrawal of support for Oslo by many opposition groups, it became the State of Fatah. Fatah suddenly became the party of the state and the appropriations and appointments to office became very much colored by this. This has created a crisis within the party: while it claims to be revolutionary on the one hand, it turns increasingly into a bureaucratic state party on the other. This phenomenon can be witnessed elsewhere, in Egypt, in the Ba’ath Party in Syria, in Mexico: when the party of the revolution becomes the party of the state and along with it subject to all the pressures of corruption, patronage etc, the revolutionary image begins to rub off. This leads to a major contestation between those elements of the party that want to it to remain a popular, mass party, and those that want to benefit from the process of state-formation and the remunerations that come with it. This is a basic tension in the process of state-formation.
The conflict between the State and the Legislative Assembly; there is always an attempt on the part of the parliament to actually try and exert its autonomy vis-à-vis the executive and assert its ability to contest issues of bureaucratic hegemony, whether it be corruption or excessive power or ability to legislate, which is very ambiguous in the terms of the Oslo agreement.
These four areas create a tension between state and society, the results of which – in the case of the Palestinians – have yet to be seen. What is clear, however, is that they represent challenges to democratic intervention and opposition.
Recently, two books have come to my attention, both of which throw some light on this very interesting relationship and are worth mentioning here: one is by Yezid Sayigh, entitled Armed Struggle and the Search for the State (1997), the other is by Jamil Hilal, entitled The Precarious State (forthcoming).
Sayigh’s book suggests that the establishment of Palestinian militias during the post-1967 period and the launching of the armed struggle after the June War, while failing to dent the balance of forces between Israel and the Palestinians, led to one important, unintended consequence; it is very important to understand the way in which actions lead to results, of which the actors are not necessarily aware. Armed struggle, according to Sayigh, consolidated a cohesive, autonomous identity for the Palestinians in the Diaspora and created the prototype for a Palestinian state in exile that was based on a tributary economy and the dispensation of power through patronage. Although ostensibly the objective of the armed struggle and resistance movement was to challenge the military authority of Israel, and although it failed in that - especially after the War of 1973, when conventional warfare proved to be much more effective than fida’i activity - it nonetheless created a cohesive body, which united the Palestinians in the Diaspora, and gave them a new identity and a means to respond to the maltreatment of the Arab regimes, particularly in Lebanon, and to a lesser extent in Jordan and Syria. According to Sayigh, the system of dispensation of power and prestige that was in the hands of the Palestinian leadership was to serve the foundation for the prototype for the Palestinian state. It was an extra-territorial governmental organization that existed in Jordan, Lebanon, and then in Tunis, and its main weakness was that it was established as an extra-territorial entity. When the Palestinians were forced out of Lebanon after the Israeli invasion in 1982, it lost its geographic base, which allowed the institutional structure of the militias to temper the arbitrary rule of the leaders and their patronage system. This arbitrariness was eventually challenged in the historical move from the state of the militias to the territorial state, born out of the Oslo Accords.
Sayigh’s analysis is both controversial and original; he puts known things in one synthetic, very eye-opening essay. The imprint of the PNA can only be understood through the patronage system established by the heads of the militias, particularly by Arafat and the leadership of Fatah, to maintain a system of institutional control over various refugee communities in Lebanon, Jordan and throughout the Arab World after 1982. Patronage was the only means because there was no territorial base. It had a precarious geography in Jordan and even more so in Lebanon, but it was lost and with it its social foundation, turning it into an extra-territorial entity, the PLO. Thus, the move to Palestine was not a move of state-building from the perspective of Palestinians in Palestine, but the juxtaposition of this extra-territorial apparatus on an existing social formation. This is at the heart of the present dynamic and dilemma of state formation, democracy, and tension between civil society that Palestine witnesses.
Hilal’s book (to be published in October 1998 by Muwatin in Ramallah) addresses the nature of the synchronic state-formation that was born out of maneuvering an already formed dynamic social formation, the Palestinian society in the West Bank and Gaza, and incorporating it into the cadres of the PLO that were repatriated in Palestine in the 1994-1996 period. The first phase experienced the problem of the absence of a stable social base and the hegemony of a patronage system that treated refugee camps and the militias as a surrogate society, as if they were a real society. The society acted in place of the original, deformed Palestinian social formation, and worked, because it worked on the basis or recruitment, mobilization and co-option of cadres of the leadership of the militias, the trade unions etc., of the PLO. It would be very interesting to do an analysis of the PLO leadership in exile and see how much of it came from camps, to examine the social background characteristics of its cadres. Most likely one would find that the fighters came from the camps and the leaders from the exiled intelligentsia. I will make this very crude supposition. This gave rise to "arbitrary power and democratic anarchism" (terms used by Hilal).
In phase two, the PLO had the problem of integrating the extra-territorial apparatus into the social fabric of a relatively stable society and dynamic popular groups that were engaged in a long process of civil resistance to Israeli military authority. The result was a new entity that bore the full heritage of its original patronage system, but was engaged in a constant battle to balance the interests of a bureaucracy, the former militias and the complex civil society it encountered in Palestine.
This is a very interesting question. What kind of governing body is the PNA? I think, contrary to most claims, Arafat was able to forge a hybrid formation in which leading families from the West Bank, the fighting families of Fatah and opposition parties, the social elites of Gaza and the West Bank, and the returnees were all carefully balanced alongside each other. It was all examined to reflect this syncretic formation, and also the concentration of power in the parliament reflects this system of nomination of outside/inside, rural/urban, Khalili/Nabulsi, etc. People will then say that at the end of the day the balance is about 50/50. Returnees, though, only constitute about 5 percent of the population of Palestine and one cannot balance 5 percent with 95 percent! This is the wrong way of looking at it, because we are not talking about 95 percent vs. 5 percent - we are discussing the issue in terms of the highly articulated politicized articulators of power in the Diaspora, with the articulators of power in the West Bank and Gaza. These are the intelligentsia and representatives of political parties and the social elites. The 5 percent of returnees then, are represented by one percent and the 95 percent of Palestinian society that remained here are represented by 2.5 percent. If you look at it this way you see the creation of a new governing elite, not an upper class, that represents a fusion of two disparate sections of Palestinian society. In the end we have a new syncretic, hegemonic power.
Today, the debate about the task of governance and its attributes is concerned with the mechanisms of rule, the social base of power, the ideological disputes, and how the elite governs. Of all the debates the one that interests us here is the question of civil society and the meaning of democracy. This is interesting and boring at the same time; civil society is now a buzz word to mean everything and nothing, and it is used to simplify a very complex phenomenon by putting a label on it. The operational definition of civil society, unfortunately, has come to mean one thing only - NGOs - which reduces the process to a very simplistic analysis and obscures the reality. These words become so cheap with their overuse, and sometimes it is better to drop them. The problem is we cannot equate civil society and NGOs; the term is much broader than that. The nature of the mass organizations that appeared in the Intifada as instruments of resistance, mobilization and protection have been completely transformed in the last four years. We cannot assume they are what they were, and to assume that the future of democracy lies in this contestation only is unfair. Within the state apparatus itself there is a struggle for the rule of law, accountability, meritocracy, transparency, and checking the uncontrolled authority of executive power, whether by parliament or by law itself. The struggle of democracy is much wider and bigger than the power contest between NGOs and the state, which forms only a small part of it. There is also the struggle within the parliament for sources of legislation and for the restriction of the uncontrolled, uncontrollable attributes of the executive. That is to say the forging of civil society is also being contested in the legislative assembly, whether through the personal status codes, legislation pertaining to various aspects of the economy, or the domain of individual human rights. Within the political system there is a struggle for pluralism in the party system against the uni-party system, which implies dictatorship, and for checks and balances, a free press etc. that guarantee against authoritarianism. And finally, in the economic sphere, something which is unseen by the ordinary citizen, there is a very important struggle against monopolies, and for access and accountability.
One way to look at synchrony is as the merger of social formations that have different backgrounds. It exists all the time; one very interesting aspect is religion. There is in Palestine a formal religion and then there is informal religion, which people have believed in for hundreds of years, mainly based around shrines and saint worship, in spite of the negative way it is viewed by official religion. There is belief in the unknown and witchcraft. People go to Qatrawani in search of good health, or a child or whatever. This is popular worship that is not specifically Christian, Muslim or Jewish - it belongs to all religions and revolves around popular culture. This creates a synchronic religion, which also has social attributes that are outside the sphere of religion.
From Sayigh’s book, we see that a synchronic political culture is emerging from the imposition of the state of militias in Gaza and Ramallah. He argues that the Palestinian state can only be understood by examining the history of the evolution of Palestinian rule in Lebanon, i.e., the leadership’s struggle for power within the militias in a guerrilla situation. The dilemma is that this was completely abstracted from its historical origin and brought into a state of stable formation, which is Palestine. They brought a state apparatus, built for running militias in hostile circumstances, into a situation that is more dynamic, more democratic and more supportive. Unless one gives to the other it will not work. This synchronic authority has all the tensions of a bureaucratic apparatus that was formed elsewhere and is being imposed on a different situation. This is the synchronic state of Palestine.
What we are living now is neither complete autonomy nor complete occupation, but yet we have to give it a positive description, and this is what I am trying to do. The problem of the state as such is not inherent weakness; what makes it weak or be perceived as weak is restricted sovereignty. Restricted sovereignty is an interesting notion in constitutional analysis, because most states are by definition restricted in their sovereignty, due to the nature of the global system. Even the US is restricted by NASA, for example, or the UN. The US is somewhat caught in a struggle between belonging to the UN and refusal to comply with its conventions. There is a difference, though, in being restricted in sovereignty by virtue of being part of the global system, which is the case in all countries of the world, and being restricted because Israel does not allow us to bring refugees and goods etc., which is a restriction of a colonial nature. This is the problem.
In many people’s minds the PLO and the PNA are one and the same thing. On the other hand it is essential for the leadership of the PLO to maintain the distinction between the PLO, which is in charge of the situation and future of the Palestinians in the final status negotiations, and the PNA, which is the state of Gaza and the West Bank. This is also part of the tension between Farouq Qaddumi and Yasser Arafat. Qaddumi considers himself as Mr. PLO; he sees that the Oslo agreement put Arafat and the Palestinian leadership in a corner, because they made concessions that touch the heart of the Palestine Question. But one cannot say that the PLO has remained untarnished; it was very much shocked, shaken and undermined by the Oslo agreement, because in reality people confuse the PNA and the PLO. They talk about Arafat as the head of everything. My conclusion is as follows: it is essential to keep this separation because the struggle for the future will be long and protracted. It is essential, for example, to keep the refugee issue alive and separate from the West Bank negotiations.
The current relationship between the PNA and the NGOs is very controversial. One of the major sources of conflict between the government and NGOs is that the NGOs feel that they were the building blocks in providing services in the pre-Oslo period. Post-Oslo, their political status and role as service providers were completely transformed by the public sector. All of a sudden much of the money that used to come to these NGOs was diverted to the PA or had to be shared, and shared extremely inappropriately, with the public sector. Those who are not receiving funds anymore therefore feel slighted, but on the other hand NGOs cannot continue to provide the same services because there is now a huge public sector to do that. In addition, a state of hostility was created in 1994 between the government’s attempts to regulate the NGOs and the NGOs’ vision of themselves as at least a partnership. All of a sudden one partner found that the other partner is not a partner, but was trying to tell him what to do, where to go. Unfortunately, the Ministry of the Interior got off on the wrong foot when drafting a law for NGOs based on the Egyptian law, which is one of the worst models of NGO administration in the world. It is very authoritarian and basically deals with NGOs through the lenses of the Mukhabarat (security services), looking at them as agents of foreign powers. In Palestinian society, NGOs are strong enough to resist this kind of imposition, and it was defeated, at least in its initial version. Now, through practice, there are a number of examples where a positive working relationship between sectors working in the public sphere and the corresponding ministries, which cannot provide equal services, has developed. For example, there are fairly good relations between the Ministry of Health and NGOs working in the health sector. The government cannot appoint salaries for primary health workers, so NGOs filled the gap and this led to a good complementary working relationship.
However, there is another side to it, which is the vision of the ‘cake’, i.e., appropriations. Ultimately, as money and power are the roots of all conflict, the antagonism will continue. But the debate is no longer ideological (e.g., left versus right, Fatah versus the left, the Islamists versus the government) as it used to be. Now, there are visions of growth and development that are competing. The left as an ideological force in society has been defeated for a variety of reasons and today it is basically a memory. It is amazing how a group that was so visionary in fighting occupation, mobilizing people, and suggesting alternative sources of power, completely disappeared within three years. There is an essential component missing, which is a social agenda in the debate about civil society and legislation and the conflict concerning the role of government in the public sector.
Yet, many NGOs were established by the leftist parties and remained, even after the parties disappeared or went into hiding. The NGOs retain historical ties with these parties, but no organic links, and they do not share ideologies or social agendas. On the whole, these NGOs have developed pragmatic, utilitarian ideologies, a sort of neo-liberalism, which has very little to do with the social agenda of socialism or Marxism etc.
Jerusalem is a special and very interesting case, because there is more space for civil society to maneuver. This is bad in a way, because the Palestinian forces are unable to challenge the hegemony of Israeli rule in an effective way, being robbed of all initiative. It is also positive in a sense, because there is a vacuum left by the existence of Israeli official forces on the one hand and the Palestinian social formation on the other, which is free to organize contests and so on. The point, of course, is that all programs for Jerusalem on the level of civil society are slogans, and acts of bravado and there is an absence of a real agenda. What exists are individual attempts by groups to instill initiative in the construction sector – some would say the efforts are not enough and have come far too late - in an area where the private sector is faced with encirclement by the Israelis.
Jerusalem is somehow very helpless, and this is not just because of the Israelis. There is something about Jerusalem that is not like Palestinian society. Jerusalem society is atomized, ghettoized, and has no national character; the only national obsession in Jerusalem is religion. There is no sense of national community here: people belong to their streets and families, not to a wider network. It never was a city like other cities, it never had a central nervous system, or if it had it was completely undermined by the War of 1948. Part of the problem is that there is no continuity in the original habitants; there is no social fabric.
5. What is Strategic Planning? (Key Issues)
Every organization wants to survive and prosper. To do so, it must respond and adjust to the social, economic and political environment and the changes therein. Changes in the outside environment occur constantly, even in stable societies, for example as a result of technological advancements or new economic policies (e.g., open market). Strategic planning is therefore a necessity in every kind of organization, be it an NGO, a government, community, political or business institution. The idea of strategic planning emerged in corporations that wanted to have a strategy on how to maximize their profits. Today, the motivation is manifold and differs according to the type of organization.
In Bangladesh for example, NGOs are running the country. After the 1971 war and subsequent independence, foreign funders went directly to the NGOs rather than to the government, which was very unstable and changed every few years. As a consequence, after almost 20 years, NGOs run almost all affairs of the society, including the provision of health and education services. To a certain extent this is good, because NGOs generally and naturally work with the grassroots and, thus, are reaching all segments of society. On the other hand, this made the Bangladeshi government withdraw completely from providing services, including formal education in some areas. Ideally, NGOs should work as a supplement to the government, which must fulfill its own duties by providing health care, formal education, etc.
Bosnia is another example where NGOs ran the country. For four years during the war, they were the government and the only service providers. NGOs in Bosnia did not face any restrictions in bringing into the country whatever was needed simply because the government was far too concerned with defending the country. When the war ended, however, the government wanted to take all its roles back, approve what the NGOs were doing and ensure that they would work through them. The conflict as to who is to do what has not yet been resolved.
Also during the genocide in Rwanda NGOs practically ran the country for at least two years. The Rwandan example shows that if a state is weak, especially in times of war, the government has no time to worry about socioeconomic, educational and related issues, and leaves much room for NGOs to fill the gap. Once the crisis is over, however, it often dislikes the situation created and makes every attempt to force the NGOs to work within its own agenda. In the Rwandan case, the government argued that it had a certain vision and plan for the country’s future, which it intended to accomplish, and not all NGOs were not working towards this goal. Thus, the government ordered the NGOs to coordinate their missions and visions with that of the government, which resulted in a filtering process, as many NGOs were ousted or closed because they were not working along the lines set by the government.
Definition of Strategic Planning
The key questions pertaining to strategic planning are: Why does an organization exist? What is it doing? Why does it do it? And who is it addressing?
According to John Bryson, who is considered to be one of the main experts in the field, strategic planning is a disciplined effort to produce fundamental decisions and actions that shape and guide what an organization is, what it does, and why it does it. To deliver the best results, strategic planning requires broad yet effective information gathering, development and exploration of strategic alternatives, and an emphasis on future implications of present decisions. Strategic planning can help facilitate communication and participation, accommodate divergent interests and values, foster wise and reasonable analytical decision-making and promote successful implementation.
Others, like Emily Gantz McKay, summarize strategic planning as a process of determining what an organization intends to accomplish and how its resources must be directed towards accomplishing these goals in a defined period. In doing so, some fundamental tasks need to be completed, including defining a vision, a mission, and goals, and identifying the stakeholders, the clients, and other people whose needs are addressed. Furthermore, an organization’s role in the community must be clearly defined (e.g., is it the only one in the community or one of many?) as must the kinds of programs, services and products the organization offers to clients, and the resources needed (e.g., people, expertise, money etc.). Then the task is to decide how the resources and programs can be best combined in order to accomplish the mission.
Strategic planning can be applied to many different types of institutions: governments, agencies, cities, non-profit organizations, communities, networks, etc. The size of the organization in question, the stability of its environment, and its overall goal determine the period of time the plan will cover. Governments naturally resort to longer-term strategic planning (up to ten years), while NGOs tend to have two to three-year plans.
While working on a strategic plan, one must bear in mind that strategic planning is not the same as operational planning, which is the step that follows, i.e., the practical work plan for how to accomplish the strategic plan in the coming period. Strategic planning revolves around the vision of an organization, while operational planning refers to implementation, i.e., how the organization gets to where it wants to be.
Strategic Planning and Leadership
It is important to stress that strategic planning is not a substitute for leadership. Whether the leadership consists of one person, a committee, or a board of directors, it is crucial to have a plan and direct responsibilities for implementing it. Without leadership, strategic planning will not go beyond a nicely written plan, because no one will be committed to it. If an organization has a visionary leader, he/she should establish the vision and than distribute the responsibilities according to the strategic plan; otherwise, a board of directors or any other body may determine it. How the leadership is eventually set up depends largely on the size of the organization, its work, resources and situation.
Although it is a widespread phenomenon especially among NGOs, it is not advisable to have only one leader, because if everything depends upon this person, the institutions will collapse once the leader leaves. I experienced this in my own organization: during the first two years I had to solve every problem that occurred. Whenever I traveled the phone bill went up drastically, because I was called wherever I was to make decisions regarding even the simplest problem. This example shows that it is important to have a coherent body and a team of people with clearly defined responsibilities, who can handle the situation even in the absence of the leader. Furthermore, the staff should be involved at every level possible and enjoy certain independence - this will encourage their commitment, loyalty and creativity. Without clear organizational structures and a committed staff, strategic planning is meaningless. Strategic planning also enhances the staff’s responses and improves its performance.
Benefits of Strategic Planning
John M. Bryson emphasizes that strategic planning is not a substitute for strategic thinking and action but promotes it. Strategic thinking requires a serious commitment to analyzing a given situation, making an environmental assessment, and coming up with a list of requirements. Strategic action is how to implement this plan in the most efficient and productive way. Together these lead to a systematic information gathering about the organization’s internal and external environment. The benefits of strategic planning can be summarized as follows:
Information: Strategic planning provides an environmental assessment that is very crucial for clarifying the organization’s future direction and establishing priorities for action. Strategic planning allows an organization to reflect on known facts and define this knowledge in a new context. It is a gradual learning process that will add up to a larger picture and build a ‘road map’ for the organization that recognizes the impact of the changing environment and helps deal with changing circumstances.
Direction and Focus: Strategic planning also helps develop a rational basis for decision-making by guiding key decision-makers regarding what needs to be done. An organization might have many problems, and employees often get caught up in minor conflicts and do not invest their time in an effective way. Through strategic planning an organization will identify the important problems and clearly formulate its intentions, on the basis of which a coherent basis for solving conflicts can be developed.
Performance: Strategic planning and goal setting can positively influence the organization’s performance as it fosters teamwork and communication both inside and outside the organization. A better performance, in turn, helps convince funders, clients, beneficiaries and staff that the organization or its project are worthy of their attention and services; if an organization is focussed and well-organized, the task of marketing what it is doing or providing will be much easier. Funders and stakeholders like to see a strategic plan that shows that an organization knows what it is doing, why, and where this is intended to lead.
Awareness: Furthermore, strategic planning helps an organization to become aware of its strengths and weaknesses, capacity for growth, other opportunities and potential threats. Thus it provides a focus where no or little attention is usually paid due to the preoccupation with day-to-day activities. An organization might have many conflicting demands and there is a need to set priorities by identifying the services it should focus on. For example, the first program Women for Women organized was sponsorship, whereby women in America sent their ‘sister’ – a female refugee in either Bosnia or Rwanda – a monthly $25 loan and a letter. Once Bosnia and Rwanda were no longer front-page news, the sponsors dropped, and the organization recognized a need to diversify its services. However, we found that sponsorship was what we were best at, inasmuch as it was this activity for which we were most widely known, and we began to increase our efforts to attract sponsors. The need to focus is also evident in organizations that expect or face limitations in their budget, including governments, which requires a reassessment as to how to re-divert the available money in the most beneficial manner. Similar situations arise if the leader is leaving, or if a new competitor comes to the region, or if there is a change in the environment or in the client’s needs.
Staff Involvement: Strategic planning also promotes teamwork, learning and commitment. The staff works towards accomplishing the vision but it is wrong to assume that they will automatically share the vision or even be familiar with the larger picture. In order to motivate staff, everyone must be involved in the design of the vision and feel part of the decision-making, like part of a ‘family’. Many corporations in America, for example, are giving their staff stocks in the company as an incentive to perform well. There are certain limits, though, since not everyone can be involved in everything - this would only delay decisions and lead to chaos. Input and ideas from staff members, volunteers or beneficiaries can be very encouraging, but also quite dangerous as one can easily lose sight of the overall vision and divert from what is actually wanted. Staff involvement, therefore, requires an organized structure, clear roles and duties, and delegation by an authority, which is ready to listen and give the staff the opportunity to express their views.
Empowering the employees means to have them function more or less independently within their assigned responsibilities and encourage them to make own decisions within the confines of their job description. This also promotes creativity, flexibility and commitment. However, in the end, the final decision-making must lie in the hands of a carefully defined body, otherwise the organization will lose its direction.
Preconditions for Strategic Planning
One of the preconditions for becoming involved in strategic planning is the existence of a functioning infrastructure; without a ‘good government’ – be it on the national or organizational level - strategic planning is useless. In some countries one often faces the problem that planning starts at the apex, with no system, structure or common vision, and with directors that are not appointed on the basis of their individual merit.
In order for strategic planning to be successful, the following preconditions must be met:
The institution is clearly structured;
It has an accurate picture of the environment, including awareness of limitations;
A body of decision-makers exists; preferably representing a variety of expertise (e.g., backgrounds in fundraising, media, management, planning, accounting);
A committed staff and leadership is in place;
All involved must be convinced of the benefits of strategic planning.
According to John M. Bryson, there are two different methods of strategic planning:
The rationale planning model, based on the assumption that in organizations with shared, fragmented power structures there will be either a consensus on goals, policies, programs and steps necessary to achieve the aims, or someone with enough power and authority so that consensus does not matter. The weakness of this model is that it does not matter if people agree or not.
The political decision-making model, which starts with identifying and defining complex issues and conflicts (goals, means, timing, political implications, etc.). Then, policies and programs are developed in order to address these conflicts and choose the most essential issues. Finally, goals are defined accordingly.
Most practical is a mixture of both approaches: identifying problems, then filtering and processing them into a set of goals, putting these goals in the context of the overall situation and finding ways to accomplish them.
Organizations that operate in an unstable environment should limit their strategic planning horizon to a maximum of two to three years in order to maintain certain flexibility. The planning process should try to predict the problems that might occur and provide for alternatives. For example, when the war ended in Bosnia, Women for Women had just finished a strategic plan that addressed war-related issues. The environment then changed drastically and had to be reassessed and reanalyzed. However, since the ultimate goal was the empowerment of women, the vision was also applicable to the post-war situation, only the programs to accomplish it had to be revised and amended. A real problem arises when an organization has to change its goal and not only its projects and the means to achieving its aspirations. Changing a goal means changing the whole organization.
Strategic Thinking and Management
Strategic thinking is evaluating the production, purpose and function of an organization. The underlying idea is to identify the end goal that justifies the organization’s existence. Strategic thinking involves assessing and understanding the needs and environment of an organization, including opponents, allies, competitors, government policies etc., and reaching creative plans that deal with the issues in question. Strategic thinking also involves creativity in developing effective responses to anyone in the external environment – both in terms of providing the suitable services and meeting the needs of the clients.
Strategic management addresses the implementation of a plan. It formulates a future mission in light of all the outside and inside forces that affect the organization, and develops a competitive, sellable strategy accordingly. Strategic management involves creating an organizational structure that utilizes its limited resources efficiently. The entire strategic planning process is about focusing and, thus, requires one to always remember and keep in sight the overall vision.
Strategic management involves one of two approaches:
Operational driven approach: A self-assessment of the environment followed by the formulation of a strategic plan. This makes an organization challenge itself and involves day-to-day/month-to-month activities, i.e., constant updating and dealing with changes according to the vision.
Traditional approach: Following established lines, based on the assessment that the organization is functioning well and there is no need to deal with or change anything. This can only work in a stable environment.
6. The Strategic Planning Cycle
In the process of strategic planning an organization has to familiarize itself with the rules of the game - the threats, the demands, the opportunities etc. - in order to be well equipped, conditioned, and able to pursue the strategic plan. According to John M. Bryson the strategic planning process includes the following:
Setting up the organization’s direction
Formulating the organization’s broad policy
Assessing the external and internal environment
Identifying key issues and developing strategies to deal with them
Paying attention to the needs of the stakeholders
Planning, reviewing and adopting procedures
Implementing the planning
Making fundamental decisions and taking actions accordingly
Continuous monitoring and assessing the results.
The above is only the framework within which numerous details need to be worked out. Each issue that is dealt with should have a procedure to evaluate it; only if evaluation is incorporated in all planning steps will an organization be able to stay up-to-date with the current situation.
In brief, strategic planning is an in-depth assessment of the overall situation, reviewing all of an organization’s various aspects. The scope of the individual strategic plan depends thereby on an organization’s size, resources, and circumstances. A realistic expectation of the outcome of the process is to gather key actors and issues, work through strategic acting and thinking, and to focus on what is truly important for the organization. Strategic planning is designed to question the current routines along with the contracts made with the stakeholders, and to assess what has been accomplished and how this relates to the decisions made.
Before starting the strategic planning process it must be ensured that there is a decision-making body that is responsible for facilitating and following up on the process. Depending on the organization, this can be a board of directors or any other group of people with clearly defined roles who are committed to implementing the strategic plan. As a principle it can be said that in a small NGO the leader herself/himself could formulate the draft strategic plan, while larger organizations usually appoint a steering committee. The ideal planning team would consist of experts from a variety of different backgrounds (e.g., politicians, academics, economists, fundraisers, etc.), because each will bring in his own perspective, and - as long as there is agreement on the vision - contribute. Diversity is a crucial element in obtaining the best results.
Although they are not decision-makers, middle management and front-line workers should also be incorporated in the process, because they are the ones who deal with the clients on a day-to-day basis and among the first to perceive mismatches between the organization and its environment.
The time allocated to the planning process itself depends on the size of the organization. A small NGO may need a few hours and a couple of follow-up meetings, a medium size organization will need at least a couple of days, while a large organization may need a month or more to prepare an agenda with all the details, including deadlines and rules. How often a strategic plan is undertaken depends on the organization as well as on the changes in the environment and how these effect the organization. In Bosnia, for example, the environment totally changed with the end of the war; at that point many organizations decided on strategic planning in order to assess their role and context within the newly created situation.
The Strategic Planning Process Step-by-Step
Initiation and Agreement on the Strategic Planning Process
The first step in developing a plan is setting a direction. Setting directions means reaching an initial agreement on the overall strategic plan, i.e., identifying and agreeing on critical, strategic issues, the actors, the scenes, and the overall present situation. The first step is therefore to negotiate an agreement amongst the key decision-makers that includes the outset of the plan, the midway scenarios and the desired conclusion, as well as ways to get there. The process is likely to flow more smoothly if a coordinating committee or any other board is involved in policy making, but sometimes organizations decide to hire a consultant or advisor. Consultants are total outsiders, who often do not know much about the organization and are rather expensive; advisors usually know the organization, but in many cases are unable to make a full-time commitment; in other cases, their input might only be required at the actual decision-making stage.
Bryson focuses on the importance of support and commitment of key decision-makers to the success of the overall planning process. Sometimes representatives from the clients and/or the funders may be invited, depending on the specific situation and goals. In Bangladesh, for example, the Grameen Bank, a micro-credit organization incorporated into its board several of its clients into their board, who were selected by election and had worked long enough with the organization to know what was going on. In Bosnia, it was too early to incorporate clients into Women for Women because most goals were either urgent or short-term projects to meet the tremendous needs, such as housing, the bid to find missing relatives, work etc. The clients had no time to adjust and become familiar with the overall vision and mission.
The initial agreement should be negotiated with at least some of the key decision-makers as reaching agreements at the very beginning on how to function and divide the work results in far fewer problems later on. Whatever problem might occur later, it would be filtered in the context of such an agreement or ‘contract’, and the problem solving procedure will follow an agreed set of rules.
Every planning process is based on a purpose that is worth the strategic planning effort and focuses on a certain desired outcome. Once all the required information is collected the various units and groups involved in an organization must be put in the picture and informed of the options. Then, the decision-makers must agree on the various steps of the strategic plan, as well as on time and reporting schedules.
The benefits of this step are that it convinces the people concerned of the strategic plan, develops their commitment to it, forces them to think strategically, and gives legitimacy to the organization. Attention should be paid to the fact that funders do not necessarily like to hear that everything about an organization is wonderful, but appreciate critical self-analyses about weaknesses and strengths because this provides a clear definition of the organization, its abilities and needs.
A good initial agreement should include a general outline of the sequences in the strategic planning effort and signify the support of key decision-makers at several levels in the organization. Leadership is very crucial in each of the planning steps regardless of whether it is in the form of a decision-making body, a steering committee, or a board of directors, etc.
The initial agreement should stipulate the goal and purpose of the effort, i.e., explain why strategic planning is needed at this particular point. There should be a steering committee responsible for defining, modifying and putting together the agreement. The identification of roles is crucial in terms of overseeing and implementing the work and defining what resources (money, time, staff, etc.) are needed.
Identification of the Organization’s Mandate
The second step includes an examination of all by-laws, regulations, personnel manuals, etc., pertaining to the organization. It is important to be aware of these stipulations in order to avoid controversies and unnecessary self-imposed restrictions. This also includes taking into consideration the organization’s social environment, i.e., identification of what is socially accepted and the prevailing ethical standards within the community. Furthermore, it has to be clear what is expected of the decision-making body and what constraints and limitations apply.
Clarification of the Organization’s Mission and Values
A mission provides social justification for the organization’s existence and activities. In this context, the socioeconomic and political needs and interests of the clients must be identified and reasons underlying the establishment of the organization be explained. The mission clarifies the purpose and defines the arena in which an organization operates - whether it is a humanitarian or human rights group, a micro-credit program or a think tank. A socially justifiable mission leads to an identification of the key stakeholders in this process and their concerns. The target group needs to know that the organization is there to provide services to them. An example from Bosnia illustrates this: there were a lot of villages besieged by the Serbs with no food, no water, and no clothes. A Saudi organization distributed Arabic Qur’ans to the people, who did not even read Arabic; with all due respect, this well-intentioned act did little if anything to meet their needs.
Another element is identifying the criteria according to which the clients judge an organization. For example, many of the besieged Bosnian towns and villages argued that they did not want food but weapons; they criticized the UN and other international organizations for feeding them, and then allowing the Serbs to kill them. Concerns and criteria have to be put in context carefully. The criterion in the above example was the delivery of weapons for self-defense as the UN was not defending the civilian population while only food was supplied as a means of helping the people survive. The rhetorical call for weapons did not mean that the people did not want food but it shows how actions can be judged differently and how stakeholders can influence organizations.
Funders’ criteria might also differ from that of an organization or its clients, and the organization will have to decide whether to follow the funders’ aspirations and divert from its original task or stick to its mission and refrain from changing track and providing the alternative kinds of support. Organizations often opt for the money, which results in them diverting their projects and, at a certain point, losing track of what they are actually working towards. Ideally, an organization should seek unconditional funding where the criteria applied do not force it to alter its vision. A stakeholder analysis will help clarify whether the organization needs to change its mission and perhaps its strategies. In some cases the overall situation might change in a way that obliges an organization to review its mission according to the changes. Principally, if an organization has an agreed set of criteria, priorities and ethical standards on which it bases its arguments, it will be much easier to make a decision as to whether to follow the clients’ expectations or the funders’ requests.
While a vision is a more general and relates to what changes are to be made, a mission is more concrete, stating the ways and means with which those changes are to be achieved. Other organizations might share one’s vision but differ in their mission. A mission statement can be anything from a paragraph to several pages. It has to be concise and identify who is being served, what is being altered and why. Often a mission statement is rather short and general in that it fits into the different programs of an organization.
Assessment of the External and Internal Environment (SWOT-Analysis)
The environmental assessment identifies the strengths and weaknesses pertaining to an organization as well as the opportunities and threats it is likely to face in the future. With the SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats)-Analysis, both the internal and external environment of the organization are investigated. The external environment includes many elements that are beyond the control of an organization, e.g., political changes, technological advances, social conditions, state of war or peace, etc. The internal environment is usually controllable and assessable and relates to staff, budget issues, by-laws, or organizational policies.
Opportunities and threats are future-related, whereas weaknesses and strengths refer to present situations. To be able to predict the opportunities and threats one needs to be familiar with the environment. For example, in 1999 Palestine might become a state or it might not – this is the situation the Palestinian people are facing and the outcome will be the result of unpredictable developments. According to Bryson, "opportunities and threats can be discovered by monitoring various economic, political, technological, social, educational and physical trends and forces." Identifying an organization’s strengths and weaknesses also means preparing and planning for the future.
To identify internal strengths and weaknesses an organization must examine its resources, number and qualifications of staff, salaries and appraisal structures, as well as underlying philosophies, values, culture and ethics. All these issues are crucial in learning about the organization’s character and in assessing its present strategies, performance and output. Bryson emphasizes that organizations must also monitor clients and important external stakeholders, especially those that affect the organization’s resources, and analyze current trends amongst both funders and beneficiaries. This also includes an assessment of what is socially acceptable within a given community, for example, to which degree women can be involved, after which the organization must make a strategic decision as to whether and to what extent it wants to follow social norms or challenge them. In Bosnia, for example, part of the Women for Women program was to train women in non-traditional jobs, such as painting and carpentry, which was a challenge to conservative limits.
Another example is Bangladesh, which is a very conservative society, where women in rural areas do not go to the market. One women’s organization decided to promote women’s involvement in non-traditional jobs, simply because they pay better, but everyone resisted the idea except one woman, who was willing to face the challenge. With the help of some friends and relatives she started selling food in the market and was successful enough to open up a store, at which point all the men in her street closed their shops in protest. Her clients remained faithful, however, and other businessmen began opening shops nearby, due to the fact that so many people came to that area, which eventually developed into a totally new market. The woman sacrificed a great deal and faced many problems, including from her husband, who was beating her every day, but in the end everyone accepted the idea of women selling in the market and she even hired her husband as an employee!
Identification of Strategic Issues
According to Bryson, "Strategic issues are the fundamental policy questions or critical challenges that affect an organization’s mandate, mission and values, as well as the clients, the finances, the staff, etc. By definition, strategic or critical issues involve conflicts pertaining to what, how, why, where, and when something should be done and who should do it." Strategic issues could be, for example, the goal of a project; the ways and means to undertake it; the philosophy behind it; the location and timing, and the persons involved, favored or disadvantaged by the different ways of solving an issue. An organization must be prepared to deal with the consequences that occur once a decision has been made. For example, the approach of the Bangladeshi woman to challenging the social norms was a strategic one: she continuously assessed how her environment reacted and decided accordingly whether or not it was worth taking the risk of going ahead. She and the organization that helped her went through a tough time with many of the employees being threatened by men, but in the end, they fulfilled their mission.
Bryson suggests different ways of identifying the major critical issues that lead the whole process of strategic planning. The first is one is the critical issue approach and examines all the important issues an organization is facing or affected by and puts them in a logical order. These are then ranked according to priority and dealt with one by one. In doing so, one might find that some of the issues are interrelated and that by focussing the strategic planning on certain issues the remaining ones will be solved as a consequence. For example, ‘water’ is a critical issue for the Palestinians, but it results from other constraints and would be less of a problem were a state to exist.
Another way is the scenario approach, which develops several alternatives of a vision and then selects the best scenario. For example, the scenarios that are available for the Palestinians right now are a Palestinian state, an arrangement with Israel, or (con-) federation with Jordan. In choosing the scenario that is most desirable and meets the relevant issues and concerns, a relationship with Jordan, for example, would be less inclusive than having one’s own state. The scenario that provides the best answers to pressing questions should be elaborated. In elaborating, one always must ask questions such as what is the goal of the organization; what is its goal within the community; which services does it provide; which are its key relationships; and how is it financed? The advantage of this approach is that it is quick and engages creativity and imagination.
A third possibility is the alignment approach, which puts the critical issues side by side in three dimensions, lists the significance of each and tries to align them. Basically it is like a car, whose four wheels must be in alignment. In the case of an organization there needs to be an alignment between the mission, the programs and the resources. If these components do not fit with each other they must be worked on until a balance is reached. This is to clarify the mission statement, assess its future relevance, and see whether it should be changed. Other questions include: Are the program strategies relevant? Do they address the right needs in the community? Are the programs well implemented and if not, how can this be changed? Are the required resources available and utilized correctly and efficiently, and if not, what should be done?
A statement of strategic issues should always include the following three elements:
All issues should be put as questions: i.e., if x, y, or z happens, this is what we will do;
The factors that make the issues challenging should be listed; and
The planning team should prepare a list of the consequences of not taking the proper steps.
Bryson suggests three types of strategic issues that can be differentiated:
Issues that require no action at the present but must be monitored.
Issues that are appearing on the horizon and will require action soon, so that they need to be addressed from now. When the negotiations in Bosnia were initiated, for example, it became apparent that the war would end in the not-too-distant future; accordingly, the organizations began to think about how this would affect them and began to prepare for a postwar stage.
Issues that require an immediate response to things that are happening now and need to be addressed without delay.
Formulation of Strategies and Plans to Deal with the Strategic Issues
After selecting the strategic issues, a first draft plan will be drawn by a chosen individual or group according to an agreed upon format. It should include an executive summary and an outline of the process and the ultimate goal. A mission and a vision must be stated as must the values and guiding principles of the organization. The history of the organization - how it was founded, how it started – should be noted as well as past accomplishments. If an organization is ten years old, for example, there should an explanation of what it has achieved thus far and why it is different from when it started. In addition, an organizational profile should be drafted, detailing who the members, clients and stakeholders are and what specific services are offered. Finally, financial plans are needed; the budget must take into consideration the expected revenues and expenses and be balanced according to the available resources. Furthermore, the marketing strategy and success indicators should be identified as should future challenges, competitors, allies, etc.
Bryson defines a strategy "a pattern of purpose, policies, programs, actions, decisions or resources; allocations that define what an organization is, what it does and why." Formulating strategies start with and build on the vision. Once strategic issues are identified the next step is deciding how to deal with them. While this should always be answered positively, the planning team must consider the difficulties inherent in the implementation of these strategies, such as budgeting, staff and resource challenges. The team should develop major proposals for dealing with the obstacles and challenges ahead. The strategy and corresponding rules must be clear from the beginning in order to avoid conflicts over issues at a later stage. Putting strategic issues into a strategic plan also requires a system that allows one to reassess the strategies. This is a continuous process that examines the strengths and weaknesses of the plan as well as the modifications necessary in order to achieve better results.
Once the strategies have been agreed upon and formulated, the organization must develop an effective implementation process for the actions it will be taking over the specified period, e.g., the next two or three years, whereby past strategies and their pros and cons should be taken into consideration. The required actions need to be identified and outlined in a work plan, which should also predict what kind of challenges might occur and when. By referring to pre-designed action plans for varying scenarios, an organization is able to react timely and appropriately to an emerging situation. In this context, one should bear in mind that strategic planning can be carried out for an entire organization as well as for a certain program or unit. Accordingly, the work plan may extend over weeks, months or even years and is usually divided into various phases, e.g., stage 1, stage 2 and so forth.
For example, if the goal is that five percent of the population have a high school degree in five years, the initial tasks would be to identify the illiterate and draw up a basic literacy program. The second stage would be to move step-by-step from literacy to formal education until the ultimate goal is reached.
The implementation plan should also contain an appendix, in which any additional information can be listed, e.g., the results of a stakeholder survey.
Once the plan is put together, it should be reviewed and refined, where necessary, taking into consideration the general reaction to the plan and any changes that have occurred. The strategic plan must always be up to date and a monitoring system should be established at an early stage to ensure that the plan is implemented according to its stipulated strategy, vision, mission values, etc.
An evaluation must be made at the end of the planning process, although it is even better to carry out an assessment after each step of the planning cycle. Each section of the plan should be discussed to identify and eliminate possible risks and problem spots. In doing so, it can be useful to seek the input of the various stakeholders, but the ultimate decision on the final version of the plan should lie with the determined decision-making body; otherwise, things might get out of hand and delay the process considerably. In Bangladesh, for example, a women’s group that ran literacy and empowerment programs for women used very traditional textbooks, which portrayed the woman as mother and housewife, while the father went to work and made a living. Hence, the women enrolled in the programs received contradictory messages: while they were taught to become (financially) independent, the books suggested they stay at home and cook. Consequently, the women’s organization decided to write a new textbook based on their input. The clients, asked to provide feedback on the new book, did not like it so the book was revised over and over again until everyone agreed upon a final version.
The assessment process is to strengthen and reinforce the strategic plan; by comparing it to its original vision, it is possible to assess why and how the plan has diverted. Diversion from the initial version is not necessarily wrong but the reasons behind it should be examined why it evolved. The need for a reassessment of the strategic plan - and a decision as to whether it should be modified or not - may also arise if the leadership changes, reforms are pending, needs have changed, or staff or the external environment provide new relevant input.
Before undertaking an evaluation the organization has to decide and be clear about which issues and goals should be assessed (e.g., time, services, performance, etc.). In Bosnia, for example, a training program was undertaken that aimed at providing skills training for women and teaching them about their civil, economic, social and political rights. The ultimate goal of the project was to improve their chances of employment, based on the notion that awareness concerning their rights would strengthen their self-esteem and make the women more confident in pursuing their goals. Since the reasoning was that an increase in their awareness would lead to increase job opportunities, the program was then evaluated with regard to the employment situation afterwards and not with regard to how much the women had learnt during the training itself.
It is also important to look at the suitability, appropriateness and possible duplication of a project within a given context. Principally, by knowing its environment and challenges an organization should have a reasonable idea of what evaluations should be based upon and how outcomes can be measured.
7. Organization and Management of NGOs – The Mandate, the Vision and the Mission
The Mandate of an Organization
Before an organization identifies its mission and values, its formal and informal requirements must be clear. Formal requirements are likely to be laws and by-laws. Internally there are by-laws and employees’ manuals that regulate the organization, for example, how the board of directors should pass any new program, and how board meetings should be conducted. By-laws are the constitution of the organization. Employees’ manuals stipulate the staff’s rights, duties, and working hours, etc. Externally there are laws and regulations as stipulated by superior authorities or the government itself. In Bosnia, for example, non-profits are not allowed to work with micro-credits, because doing so creates a profit through charging interest. The mandate of a women’s organization with a credit program may argue that the overall goal is to help women but the authorities will refuse, saying that profit-making for non-profit organizations is prohibited by the law. In transitional societies the relationship between the government and the NGO sector is often vague, because there are still no official by-laws that regulate and govern such a relationship.
Informal mandates are not necessarily less restricting; these include the cultural traditions, norms, and ethical standards prevailing in a society or among stakeholders. Social values can be equally as important as formal law and legislation. For example, an organization that wished to promote women riding bicycles in Ramallah would be restricted by an informal mandate imposed by the society, which deems it unacceptable for women to ride bicycles.
The main benefit of determining the mandate is that it increases the likelihood that it will be met. Whether it is restrictive or not, by knowing what the mandate is an organization also knows its limits and boundaries. A clear mandate therefore helps in formulating a clear mission and sets the framework for possible organizational actions.
The Mission and the Vision
Mission versus Vision
In short, a mission is a purpose while a vision is a dream. A mission clarifies the organization’s purpose, i.e., what it is doing and why it is doing what it does. The vision, on the other hand, clarifies how the organization wants to look and how it should act in the future to fulfill its mission; it communicates enthusiasm and provides the organization with something to aspire to.
The vision of Women for Women is to help women refugees in any war situation build up their lives and stand on their feet. Based on this, the mission explains what Women for Women wants to do and how. It is similar to a personal dream: if, for example, someone wants to become a member of parliament within five years (vision) everything she or he will work for is to help her/him reach that position (mission).
A vision can be wide and contain various aspects of the ‘dream’ that is to be accomplished, while the mission needs to be more specific. Several organizations might have the same vision but their respective missions to accomplish their goals could each have a different focus. For example, the vision of women’s organizations is usually to empower women, whereby some of them might focus on legal issues, while others might emphasize social or economic aspects or concentrate on training and skills development.
The importance of the mission is that it specifies the organization’s purpose as well as the philosophy and values that guide it. Bryson argues that "unless the purpose is focused on socially useful and justifiable ends, the organization cannot hope to identify the resources it needs to survive, including high quality and committed employees." A mission that is genuine will create enthusiasm and excitement within the organization, whether amongst stakeholders, staff or board members. In staff interviews one should examine whether the applicant agrees with what the organization is doing, because someone who cares and believes in what the organization stands for will do a far better job.
Finally, a mission statement helps in solving conflicts within an organization. Since the mission provides guidelines regarding the needs, purpose and activities of the organization, it functions not only as an accepted base of shared values but also puts personal views and assumptions in context.
Before drafting a mission statement, a stakeholder analysis should be done in order to verify the required services. It is similar to market research: the collection of information about clients and their needs will help the decision-makers clarify and define the organization’s arena of action. Similar analyses for funders or staff, etc., can be equally useful.
A stakeholder analysis does not have to include everyone but should be based on a random sample that represents a variety of ages and economic backgrounds. For example, a staff survey should include representatives from among the junior staff, the senior staff, the management, and program assistants or volunteers. Even if an organization is newly established, a stakeholder analysis is useful: at the beginning there is a vision and accordingly, there are potential stakeholders, i.e., the people or target group one would like to serve or else work with.
There are different ways of doing a stakeholder analysis. One method involves conducting a survey, asking the stakeholders about their needs and demands, how they evaluate the organization and its programs (satisfactory or not, helpful or not, etc.), and what kind of additional projects they would suggest. Such surveys can also include an evaluation of the organization’s impact on the stakeholders, for example by looking at how much money they had before as compared to after a project or how an employment strategy fits in with the demand for jobs. If the clients are illiterate, which is often the case in developing countries, the survey questions can be read to them and answers filled in on their behalf.
Another method is conversation, i.e., going out to the field and talking to people about their demands, perceptions and suggestions. The findings and the impression their responses leave should be documented in a report. The problem with conversation, however, is that people are often hesitant to say directly what they otherwise would write down in a more anonymous (open answer) questionnaire.
Finally, there is guessing, which is the weakest method because it is based on personal impressions about what an organization has encountered during a certain period and not on facts or clear answers resulting from a questionnaire. Guessing should only be applied to people whose overall opinion and attitude is familiar territory.
All three methods can also be combined. The surveys will provide the stakeholders’ opinion in their own words; guessing and predictions from conversation can gather additional information, which might deviate from or supplement the survey results. The results of the analysis will give the organization some direction concerning its positive and negative aspects and should certainly be presented and discussed during board meetings.
Finally, a stakeholder analysis should not be mistaken for an evaluation. It is only a look at the clients’ reaction to an organization’s performance, i.e., their responses, feedback, and overall satisfaction. The following example will illustrate this: In Bosnia, Women for Women ran a micro-credit project involving women of all ages, many of them illiterate. Part of the program was a one-week business training course to teach them organizational, planning and marketing skills. In the beginning they were annoyed and made comments such as "What are you? A bunch of city women. Are you going to teach us how to milk the cows? What can you possibly teach us?" Such initial reactions do not mean that the program had failed. Later, the program evaluation showed totally different results: the women’s income had increased, and many had learned how to read and write, etc. Program evaluation measures the success of a project, not the responses of those involved.
Writing a Mission Statement
"The mission statement is a declaration of the organization’s purpose", as Bryson puts it. Sometimes a paragraph or two, sometimes more than a page, its length will depend on what the organization does or wants to accomplish through its mission statement.
When writing the mission statement the following questions should be answered:
Who are we? The first section of a mission statement should always be about the general identity of the organization. For example, "Women for Women is an American-based, non-profit, humanitarian, interfaith organization." The reason is the need to distinguish between who we are and what we are doing.
What are we doing? The second step should address the basic socioeconomic, humanitarian or political issues and problems that the organization intends to tackle or solve. Women for Women, for example, aims at helping women survivors of war and genocide worldwide. It does so by providing women with social, economic, political and interpersonal support. This is very general, but it states exactly what Women for Women is, does and for whom it does it. While the goal(s) of the organization should be clear, e.g., ‘empowerment of women’, there should be no detailed listing of programs and projects, such as ‘micro-credit enterprises’ or ‘training program’. An organization might change its activities but not the goal.
Why are we doing it? Also included in the mission statement should be the philosophy, values and the culture behind the organization’s goals or approach. This makes an organization distinctive or unique amongst other organizations and gives the stakeholders and funders a reason why it is worth their attention or support. For example, the statement "We believe education empowers society and the teacher is one of the main people in the educational process", clearly identifies the underlying philosophy and values.
If an organization cannot come to an immediate agreement on the mission statement or the process is taking too long, it is advisable to stop and come back to it later. The strategic plan itself can be pursued along the vision and purpose of the organization, while the mission statement can be formulated later in the cycle. At the end of the planning process, the strategic plan should be re-examined, and it might be only then that the mission statement receives it final modifications.
Establishing a Vision
While the mission outlines the organization’s purpose, the vision describes what the organization will look like in the future. The vision is more imaginary and requires a visionary leader or group, with the ability to think long-term. A vision statement forms the framework for an organization’s general philosophy, goals, strategies, ethical standards and performance criteria. Ideally, a vision statement improves the organization’s effectiveness and productivity because it motivates and guides everyone involved to work towards a certain goal.
A vision statement should:
be general (which allows it to survive even in an unstable environment)
be short, precise and clear
include a promise that the organization will support its members’ pursuit of the vision;
clarify the organization’s direction and purpose;
focus on a better future;
reflect high ideals in challenging ambitions;
and stress the organization’s distinctive and unique components.
In trying to formulate a vision statement, the organization’s decision-body, steering committee or other sub-groups could be asked to draft a ‘scenario’. Other methods are to hold brainstorming sessions with various members of the organization or post notes on the organization’s boards, inviting the employees to comment what they view as most important, and then compile and put down the major points. This first draft vision should be widely circulated amongst the organization’s members and other key stakeholders; if the relevant people - stakeholders, board members, or funders - do not know the vision, it has little effect on the organization. Everyone must be aware of the vision and apply it to any major and minor organizational decisions and actions. For the beneficiaries it is also important to know the vision because it forms criteria for judgment. For example, if an organization runs a micro-credit program to empower women, the beneficiaries might think the vision is to provide credit while in fact it is women’s empowerment and the micro-credit program is only one of the smaller pieces fitting into the larger picture to accomplish the vision. Empowerment of women is also the vision of Women for Women. If, after ten years, women in Bosnia have more rights, are economically more independent, and more active in the political system, then the work was successful.
Organizations are part of the society and it is always possible that there are different actors working in the same field and even towards the same vision. This is not a problem; for example if there are several women’s groups lobbying to change the divorce law and give women more rights, their number does not negate the value of their respective work. If they succeed, each has accomplished its goal.
Once the vision is accomplished, an organization needs to re-evaluate itself as well as its environment, and decide whether to change the vision, mission, and programs, etc.
8. Environmental Assessment for Organizations
Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT Analysis)
Invironmental assessment involves the history and current situation of a project or organization and aims at identifying an organization’s strengths and weaknesses as well as the (future) opportunities and threats it is facing. In order to respond to the environment in an appropriate manner one must fully understand the internal and external context in which an organization is operating. Formulating a strategic plan will help in reaching such an understanding; a strategic plan cannot be isolated from the environment but must address all kinds of issues and questions within its context. The word ‘context’ comes from the Latin word for ‘weaving together’; here, it means weaving together all information of relevance in the external and internal environment of an organization, as Bryson suggests. In carrying out an environmental assessment, an organization’s strengths and weaknesses are usually internal, past oriented, and refer to the present situation, while opportunities and threats are generally external and future oriented.
The potential result of an environmental assessment is to prepare a background report on external forces, trends, key resource controllers, and actors, including funders, clients, customers, competitors, and allies, as Bryson suggests. In addition, a report on the internal situation should be prepared, including present strategies, performance, currently available resources and future requirements (e.g., salaries, budget, staff, expertise, etc.).
Environmental assessments examine the system and financial structure of an organization as well as strategies applied to accomplish set goals, and past and present activities. It is important to clarify and categorize any available information as it makes the planning process easier.
It might be necessary to prepare various scenarios that capture the important elements of the organization; for example, based on what an organization has been doing, potential threats should be considered, such as a war. One must be aware of all the opportunities and threats the organization might face within a certain period. The discussion of various scenarios helps in identifying such opportunities and threats and might result in the formulation of specific actions to deal with them, i.e., how to build on predicted trends or take advantage of apparent opportunities. According to Bryson, "This gives an organization not only an impetus for establishing formal environmental scanning operations but also a focus on future strategies." As an outcome of the kind, for example, an organization might decide to focus on five programs that it is really good at rather than implementing ten programs, but not getting the desired results.
Another element is networking with other organizations, which is especially important among those working in the same field. Awareness of what others are doing, coordination and information sharing should be given more attention than the competition for money and clients, which often leads to isolation and inefficiency. Involvement in networks stimulates debates and will help each member organization to identify its particular strengths and weaknesses and to focus its vision and mission.
Benefits of Environmental Assessment
An environmental assessment basically provides an organization with vital information for its survival. Unawareness of internal and external trends and issues can lead to fatal decisions and eventually force an organization to close down. In particular, an analysis of the organization’s environment has the following benefits:
It clarifies the nature of the organization and the relationships to other organizations and their dynamics.
It provides a juxtaposition between the good and the bad, the threats and the opportunities, the weak and the strong, and puts it in context and balance.
It entails an organization exploring its outside environment and identifies the opportunities and threats, as well as key success factors.
It allows an organization to categorize important stakeholder groups, especially members, allies, potential donors, and competitors.
It identifies social, political, economic, and technological forces and trends that affect or might affect the organization in the future.
In this context is must be mentioned that trends are not necessarily good and depend to a great extent on who is setting the trend. Donors, for example, often set a trend - especially in Third World countries - by allocating huge budgets for a certain subject or issue. As a consequence, many organizations go in that particular direction simply because it means funding. In Bangladesh, for example, the donors at one point encouraged the use of chemicals in farming, and many funds went to farmers using chemical fertilizers. After ten years they came to realize that this had bad effects on the environment, and as a result, everyone changed their focus.
Identifying the trends does not mean that they must be followed. In the above example it could have led to the identification of the need to address the issue of finding suitable alternatives to chemical fertilizers. If, on the other hand, a trend is relevant to an organization’s vision and mission it can be crucial to follow it. For example, in Bosnia today, most of the money is going to the promotion of democratic values and conflict resolution. On the one hand, this is good and addresses the vision of many organizations working there; but on the other hand it does not meet the actual needs and is somewhat meaningless because it is limited to the Bosnians, and excludes the Serbs. Learning about methods of reconciliation and promoting dialogue will not help as long as only one conflict party is addressed. If the trend is to contribute to conflict resolution one should examine whether the Bosnians, who are more receptive, are the right addressees or whether it is the Serbs, who are less willing and, thus, more in need, who should be the main target group. In order to accomplish a mission the trend should be principally utilized to fit the mission, rather than adjusting the mission to the trend.
Internal Environmental Assessment
According to Bryson, internal environmental assessment leads to the analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the organization itself, i.e., the organizational aspects that help or hinder the accomplishment of the mission. An example is the lack of financial infrastructure and a reporting system to monitor revenues etc., so that by the end of the year much more money has been spent than available or budgeted. Major categories that should be assessed in the internal assessment are:
The organization’s resources (e.g., salaries, staff etc.);
The present strategy (i.e., what is being done right now);
The performance (i.e., how is it being done);
The outcomes and accomplishments (i.e., measuring what has been done and what has been achieved by this) .
When assessing an organization’s internal environment and achievements qualitative description (the how, ways and means) should be used in addition to the quantitative analysis. For example, in Bosnia, there are many UN-funded organizations; one of these project groups consists of ten women who received $50,000. An outsider might judge that the amount of $50,000 or only ten women is not effective, but if these women eventually become leaders or succeed in having a certain law passed, then this is a valuable qualitative outcome. A big quantity does not guarantee quality, and smaller projects or target groups are often more productive and achieve the better results. The more people of different educational and socioeconomic backgrounds are involved in a project, the more difficult it is to pursue the goal directly. An organization has to assess and decide whether it wants to target 1,200 women, for example, and achieve mediocre results, perhaps with a few exceptions, or help ten women and have excellent results.
An Environmental Assessment for Palestine
The following is the result of an exercise that the participants were assigned during the PASSIA Training Program on Strategic Planning. The task was as follows:
"You are running for election to become a member of parliament and need a campaign strategy. Draft a strategic plan on how to win, i.e., how to convince your voters to vote for you. You need to develop a vision of what the Palestinian state should look like and a mission; then identify what are the strengths and weaknesses of the current situation as well as the future opportunities and threats."
There were four groups each drafting a strategic plan for Palestine; then, they had to discuss their results in the plenum and agree on one reading, the final version of which is presented here.
Vision: A democratic, independent Palestinian state with a strong civil society with its capital in Jerusalem.
Mission: To build a Palestinian democratic state with a strong civil society through promoting democracy, strengthening society and the economy, creating a constitution and encouraging pluralism.
Strengths: The right to vote; existence of civil society; tourism.
Weaknesses: Misuse of resources; Israeli control of economy; ineffective legislation: centralized decision making; violation of human rights; Israeli restrictions; lack of strategic negotiating agenda; unstable political situation; cantonization and geographical isolation.
Opportunities: Free movement across borders; free market economy.
Threats: Absence of security; failure of peace process; unwillingness of parties to work together; bad economic situation and lack of economic independence; political changes in the region; lack of unified laws and legislation.
9. Concepts and Approaches to Institutional Development:The Organization
There is a simple exercise called the Hidden Triangle which is often used in training sessions: it shows a diagram consisting of a number of intertwined triangles and the participants are asked to guess how many there are. Usually, the answers lie within a wide range of numbers. The meaning of this exercise is to discourage people from jumping to early conclusions. Whenever looking at a situation or a problem, one should take the time to conduct a careful analysis before making a decision. The same exercise shows that when people work in groups they are more likely to come up with the right answer, because they need to consult with each other and agree on a number. It is the same situation with a problem; one person alone might get caught up in details and get confused, whereas working together with others will lead to the integration of different perspectives and ultimately, a solution.
The term ‘learning organization’ is taken from a book entitled The Fifth Discipline - The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization, which introduces a quite interesting concept by looking at an organization as a learning organization. The underlying idea is that people can continually expand their capacity in organizations that nurture new and expansive thinking and collective action, i.e., one is constantly learning as a body (organization), not as an individual. This joint learning process also extends to the ways and means of working together, as a team, towards accomplishing a common goal.
This concept of a learning organization is called Metanoia, a Greek word that means ‘shift of mind’ (meta = above or beyond, noia = mind) and usually refers to a fundamental change. In a learning organization this ‘shift of mind’ implies a different way of looking at situations. Learning processes are often accompanied or followed by a change in values, thoughts, and perspectives, because learning creates new ideas and allows things to appear in another light. When learning something – whether as an individual or an organization – one usually applies it to his own situation and, consequently, changes accordingly. For a learning organization this basically means to continually expand its capacity in a future-oriented manner, i.e., by looking for new answers and ways of performing and operating, guided by the overall objective of the organization.
Learning organizations are based on a system of thinking that helps in allowing the organization to prosper and grow. The four main elements are:
There are different concepts pertaining to personal mastery but they have two elements in common: reason and intuition. The integration of these two elements is the basis of personal mastery. One cannot operate totally on reason or totally on intuition. Organizations do not operate in a vacuum, disconnected from the world, but within a society or certain community. Personal mastery means fostering the compassion and commitment that drive an organization, not for the sake of the organization alone but also for the sake of others. An NGO working on the environment, for example, is seriously and emotionally committed to protecting the environment.
A mental model is an image in one’s mind; it is not necessarily articulated but it still affects a person’s behavior and perception of the world and has an effect on how decisions are made. For example, a look at my passport shows an Egyptian name on an American passport - this forms a mental model, which is especially relevant in situations such as boarding a plane. A mental model can be developed by the mere name of an organization, a skin color, a political affiliation or any other feature that creates a certain stereotype.
Within a learning organization, people constantly deal with mental models and search for ways to get over or change them; for example, changing the community’s view of a certain issue or prevailing stereotypes could well be the goal of an organization.
A shared vision is not an idea, such as freedom or liberty, but rather a force in people’s minds. It may be inspired by an idea or a belief but once it goes further and is compelling enough to acquire the support of more than one person, it changes from an abstract idea or belief into one that is shared. The story of Spartacus, who was the head of all slaves and led their rebellion against slavery, is a good example: when the rebels were surrounded by the Roman army and the Romans, who were searching for Spartacus, asked everyone "Are you Spartacus?" all the slaves said yes because they shared his vision of liberty and freedom and, thus, embodied the image of Spartacus.
A learning organization has to be clear about what it wants, i.e., what its objectives are. From there it will derive its vision, shared by all those involved in the organization. NGOs usually stand for a particular cause, which makes working in them more than just a job; if employees have a shared vision in which they truly believe, they are more dedicated, committed, and passionate about what they do and where their organization is heading.
A shared vision is very important for a learning organization because it means bringing everyone together to learn and progress as one body. A shared vision fosters risk-taking and experimentation among the employees because they know that they are not working alone and with sole responsibility toward a particular goal.
In order to build a shared vision among a group of people, all of whom have their own ideas, their personal views must be heard, discussed and combined into one vision that is agreed upon and shared by everyone. The starting point is the objective an organization wants to accomplish, which is also the reason and justification for its initial establishment.
Working in teams is a very important concept and part of the learning organization. Team learning is a process of aligning and developing the capacity of a group in order to create the results its members truly desire. To be a team is simple, but to act and work as a team is not. Team learning builds on the discipline of developing a shared vision, on personal mastery, compassion, and so forth. The notion of a team implies that the members sacrifice their individuality for the end vision, i.e., to jointly achieve a common goal. A jazz band, for example, consists of musicians, all of whom are talented and play their instrument beautifully, but what really matters is that they know how to play together. It is the same with a team in a work place: it is the sum of the parts that counts. Employees might be extremely talented people, but if they are unable to work as a team because of their egos and personal ambitions, the talent is wasted. To work in a team means to leave the egos outside the door, which is particularly important in the Middle East where education, social status and titles bear a lot of weight. This is where good leadership is needed: the manager or leader should be able to inspire and guide the team. Leadership – be it in an organization or in politics - comes from the people that are behind the leader and back what he stands for. The leader functions as the spokesperson for the people, while his ideas and support are always derived from the masses.
Team learning has the following three critical dimensions:
The need to think insightfully about complex issues;
The need for innovative and coordinated action;
The role of team members in other teams.
The last point refers to the fact that one often finds more than one team in an organization, working on different, sometimes overlapping, issues. This provides a good opportunity to learn from and coordinate with the other teams. Team learning also involves dealing effectively with the forces opposing productive dialogue and discussion in working teams.
There is an important distinction between dialogue and discussion that one should be aware of. Dialogue is a truly open, free flow of ideas, a brainstorming, where everybody’s ideas are heard. Discussion is a kind of competition where one side tries to convince the other side of his point of view. The word dialogue stems from the Greek dialogos, which means a free-flowing of meaning through a group and the group’s capacity to suspend assumption and to enter into joint thinking in order to discover insights not attainable by individuals. Discussion has its roots in ‘percussion’ and ‘concussion’ and literally means a heaving of ideas, back and forth. It is more of a win or take all competition. Thus, in teamwork people should dialogue rather than discuss. A decision, eventually, should be based on a dialogue and then made following discussion. A dialogue can lead to a very fruitful discussion.
When an organization is first established, a decision is made regarding the type of work or service to be provided. The first main step is to do a needs assessment, which is more of an investment than an expense because a good needs assessment of the situation at hand will, in the long run, save much money, time, and efforts. There are six basic steps in performing a needs assessment:
Defining the agenda. (Why you are doing what you want to do? Why is there a need?)
Identifying the necessary data. (What kind of information is needed?)
Selecting the method for gathering the data.
Collecting the data.
Analyzing the collected data.
Putting all information into a report, a mission statement, etc.
The main method used for gathering information is conducting a survey, be it in the form of face-to-face interviews, telephone interviews, or written questionnaires.
Another method of analysis or assessment is benchmarking, which is used in the corporate world to analyze a single organizational element for an entire organization’s operation. For example, one may look at how the secretary answers the phone, and if she uses the proper etiquette, etc. First, the target unit or organization is analyzed and compared to examples of success in similar areas among other organizations. Then, methods for achieving the same results are developed. This method is also called ‘discrepancy modeling’, meaning that objectives are set in accordance with a discrepancy that has been found in a particular area.
There are three types of benchmarking:
Competitive benchmarking, which means to find out what everyone else is doing in a particular area, but without their participation or knowledge; it is usually applied in the business world.
Cooperative benchmarking, which looks at the practices in other organizations but with their direct involvement. Based on the findings, new and valuable ways of operating and/or improved training methods might be introduced.
Collaborative benchmarking, which is a means of working together with other organizations that have similar needs, leading to the organization of joint training programs, for example.
When assessing an organization’s needs, it is absolutely crucial to first clearly understand the current situation of the organization. Comparing oneself with others without having acquired this basic understanding can easily lead to a waste of resources and time. Once the problem areas have been identified, the easy, manageable ones should be tackled first. This leads to success and will set a good pace and a model for the more difficult tasks ahead.
Once an organization has done its needs assessment and written its mission statement, it needs to find the talent to help accomplish its goals. The next step is therefore the management and development of the human resource.
The environment around an organization relates to many issues such as public relations, relations with donors, networking, and advocacy. Communication is a very important tool and there should be an open channel of communication with everyone related to the organization, be it members, clients, beneficiaries, funders, etc. Communication is a means of public relations and an important way to influence public opinion. There are many ways or techniques to get a particular message out to the community in order to inform it or prepare it for events where action is required (e.g., organizing strikes in the case of trade unions). Oral forms of communication include giving a speech or an interview, conversing with relevant actors or holding public debates. Written forms of communication include writing headlines and articles, publishing newsletters and press-releases, as well as the design and distribution of leaflets and posters for special events.
With regard to printed materials it is always important to identify the who, what, where, when and how and to include contact names, phone numbers and the date of release. The purpose should be immediately clear to the readers, i.e., the main idea or point should be right at the beginning. The text should be limited to the subject in question and cover only items that are directly related to the main theme. Furthermore, the text should follow a logical system, use concrete terms, and avoid extraneous words, too many supporting details, and long sentences that divert the reader from the message. The headline should attract the reader’s immediate attention, be simple in form, larger in size than the rest of the text, and clear in meaning.
A successful press strategy can mobilize public opinion and allow good work to be easily recognized; a properly prepared press release therefore can be very effective. It should be printed on official letterhead, indicate the release date, be precise and logical in content, easily understood and factual. Press releases should be widely distributed, be it via mail, fax, e-mail, or distribution at news conferences or any other event.
10. Concepts and Approaches to Institutional Development: Human Resources and Fundraising
The Human Resource
Money is a necessary resource – but not the only one - for an organization; there are also infrastructure resources, such as premises and conference rooms, and the human resource. Resource mobilization means managing the resources at hand as well as potential resources in an efficient manner in order to function appropriately, to be productive and sustainable, and to meet the set targets.
To lead an organization requires good communication skills, wisdom, decision-making capacity, creativity, and initiative, etc. In a learning organization leaders are ideally teachers, responsible for building an organization where people can continually expand their capabilities, share perceptions, clarify their vision, and revise or improve their mental models. The leader is someone who harnesses the creative tension that exists in any organization. It should be in any organization’s interest to see its employees grow as individuals and to encourage and facilitate this, because it will have a positive impact on the organization itself. However, one should not forget that learning processes take time; providing facts and figures on a certain issue is much easier than trying to change behavior.
The job description depends on the audience an organization wants to address; if the job does not require specialized personnel, the organization will throw out a rather general job description, and then choose among the various kinds of people that may apply. On the other hand, if the position in question is rather specific or related to a specialized field, the job description must be specific, too.
When putting together a job description, one needs to know the organization very well in order to be able to identify the missing and complementary elements that would enhance the organization. A job description is like filling a need that has been found in the organization, meaning one must be very careful in the wording, because an employee may take it very literally.
When drafting a job description, the following elements should be included:
A synopsis of what the organization does.
A clear description of what the job entails, showing both the exciting and the boring parts. Everyone knows that a job is not all wonderful and glorious; applicants do not expect to find the perfect job and therefore the job description should be realistic.
The daily, weekly and monthly tasks: the long-term tasks should be emphasized, because this will suggest that there is a future, somewhere to go with that particular organization. A job description should be fashioned in a way that even a secretary’s job should seem as though it has some potential, excitement, vision, etc., for example by indicating that there are future training opportunities.
The job description should also mention the supervisor (the person to whom one has to report), the work setting (the headquarters, a satellite office, a job involving travel), the salary range and the benefits package.
The next logical step following the formulation of the job description is the staff recruitment. There are many possibilities as to how and where to recruit staff but the main point is to disseminate the information, be it an advertisement in the newspaper, by word of mouth, through networking, personnel services, or a head hunter. If a specialist is required, one may go to universities and talk to professors or experts. Phone directories or Yellow Pages can be another good source of information where one can look up addresses listed under a certain category, call people or send out job advertisements, or in the case of a job seeker, resumes.
Once a job vacancy has been advertised and the organization receives the applicants’ resumes and CVs the next step in the recruitment process is the interview. Depending on the kind of job and number of applicants, the resumes may be filtered beforehand and a short list of interviewees be created.
The interview itself should not be taken lightly; it is more than sitting down and having a dialogue. As time is usually the enemy, the interviewer has to focus on the important items and be aware of the following pitfalls: first, it is frequently assumed that the applicant knows far more about the organization than he/she actually does; and secondly, the interview is often limited to a certain set of pre-prepared questions, and once they are answered, the applicant rushes out. It must be taken into consideration that people sometimes just come in for an informational interview, i.e., in order to learn about the organization. Therefore, they should first be given an organizational overview and description of its activities.
Ideally there should be a selection committee, not only one person. For example, if there is an interview for a nurse’s position, not only the hospital director should be present but also the head nurse or people in other relevant positions. On the part of the interviewee, it is always good to learn a little about the organization beforehand, so that he/she can ask intelligent questions and make an impression.
Sometimes it is wise or necessary to have more than one interview, or add some tasks such as a writing assignment; there are many different ways, depending on the organization and its kind of work. The interviewee should also be aware of the next step, i.e., how many other people are being considered, when the selection will be made, and when applicants will be notified. Besides a description of what the future holds, the interviewer should also explain potential difficulties; the picture is never completely rosy and one should be always honest.
The selection of a candidate is usually followed by a probation period during which any wrong impression or misjudgments can be carefully considered.
Performance and Performance Appraisal Systems
The performance of an organization, unit or person is measured against set goals. These should be SMART goals, i.e., they should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Trackable.
Looking at the performance is also getting feedback and should be utilized as such. Feedback, when put in a drawer and forgotten, is useless; one should listen carefully and act accordingly. Sometimes there are incidents where an organization cannot implement certain suggestions because of its limitations, and this should be explained. That is the skill and talent of being a good manager. A leader has to encourage and communicate, while, at the same time set limits as well as voice expectations.
There is always room for improvement in any kind of authority or governing body, but whatever ideas or concepts are applied, one should bear in mind the given reality in terms of work, culture, positions, history and society. Concepts developed and applied in the Western World may not necessarily work in the Middle East, for example. Some things are acceptable and can be adopted, but others will not work and ways have to be found of dealing with problems. One way is to give suggestions, share ideas, experiences, success stories and not so successful stories and encourage the organization to see what example fits its particular situation best.
There are many models for improving performance but this is not the place to discuss them all in detail. In short, the following five essential steps can be taken to close a performance gap:
The performance must be analyzed to find this gap.
The underlying cause of this performance gap must be identified. This might be something that has to be done from outside, e.g., by a consultant, because it can be very difficult to look at it from inside if one is used to the organization.
One or more interventions must be selected, i.e., ways of dealing with this performance gap. One could be training, another could be access to data. For example, people involved in the implementation of a program who never get reports from the finance department may head into a performance gap because they end up over-spending as they cannot keep track of the budget situation. If they received monthly reports outlining the budget vs. spending, they would find it most useful in cutting down on expenses. Another example is the way jobs are structured; sometimes there is a performance gap in that two people are doing the same thing and there is a clash or duplication. The same goes for the flow of information; there are situations where a fax comes into the office and ends up on many desks before it gets to the addressee. If the jobs were clearly defined it would limit these performance gaps.
The change necessary to eliminate the identified performance gap must be implemented.
The results must be evaluated based on the initial analysis that disclosed the performance gap. This will clarify the present state, the problem and the extent to which the organization has achieved what it hoped to achieve through the change.
Fundraising and Proposal Writing
Organizations, whether NGO, governmental or part of the business community, need funds to cover salaries, institutional overheads, equipment, and a range of other expenses. No matter what kind of organization, financial resources are always limited and have to be managed carefully.
NGOs generally receive financial resources by submitting proposals to donor organizations and asking for funds. Funders usually require a clear outline as to why an NGO wants the money, how it is going to spend it exactly (budget), and what resources are already available. When approaching a funding institution one must always be able to convince the donor why it should give funds to this particular organization and not another one.
Proposal writing is an important part of the work of any NGO and should be done very carefully. However, it bears the danger that one can follow the prepared schemes and frameworks and get lost in all the jargon and terminology. Of greatest importance is the idea behind the proposal, i.e., the quality; the focus should be on the content and conciseness, clarity and logic. A two-page proposal, therefore, can be as impressive as one that consists of 30 pages.
There are various ways to write a proposal, but the following components should always be included:
An introduction to the project that relates to the mission statement of the organization;
The title of the project;
A background to the project, i.e., its general setting (why it should be done, what particular problem it tackles, etc.);
The objectives of the project;
A specific outline of the project, i.e., an exact description of the intended activities (what will be done and how);
A mechanism to evaluate/measure results.
The evaluation plan often gets left out but is increasingly important for funders because they are interested in sustainability, i.e., they want to know whether the organization will be able to sustain the project once they have gone. There are different methods of evaluation depending on the kind of project in question. The following four aspects should be looked at when doing an evaluation:
Reaction: if conducting a training program, for example, learning about the participants’ reactions as soon as possible.
Learning evaluation: looking at the principles, facts, techniques, etc. that were used and how these have effected a change in attitudes, for example.
Behavior: monitoring and looking at what changes in behavior resulted from the training program, for example. This is usually done by examining how people’s job performance has changed.
Results: considering the tangible results of the program in terms of reduced cost, improved quality, and improved quantity etc.
Evaluation can refer to a variety of issues, such as the administrative-logistic content, the project design, instructors, perceived impact, use of skills, confidence and ability to perform, impact measures, and so on. One important aspect is to keep track of the budget, i.e., to monitor the spending. The budget proposal contains the estimated expenses for the project in question. It basically assesses the approximate cost, and by monitoring the actual expenditures, one will be better equipped to do the next budget.
Generally a budget should mirror what has been outlined in the project description. For example, if it is proposed to set up a vocational training center to improve people’s skills in building and construction, it does not make sense to have a trip to Hawaii in your budget.
The general line items that should be in a budget are as follows:
Salaries and benefits: salaries should be calculated according to the number of weeks or months. The benefits in terms of health care, pensions, insurance, etc.
Communications and postage.
Travel and per diem: where necessary, distinguished by domestic or international travel and transportation.
Supplies, equipment, stationary.
Other direct costs: such as the cost of renting a conference room, providing meals for workshop participants, etc.
Contractual and consultancy fees
ICR - indirect costs: e.g., rent, administrative staff, electricity, secretaries. The amount depends on the costs and can account up to 30 percent of the total budget; however, high ICRs are not attractive to a donor, so it sometimes makes sense to shift some of the ICR costs into direct costs.
Sometimes a budget is flexible enough that it allows for shifting between line items, i.e., if there is under-spending on communications and postage, the surplus can be moved to areas where there is a real shortage. However, some donors set a limit for such shifts, a percentage per category, for example. It is principally good to over-estimate each line item, though without exaggeration. Which line items are eventually included in a budget also depends on the funder. Some donors, for example, consider taxes and/or hospitality as disallowed costs and will not pay for expenses such as VAT, restaurants or entertainment; others will refuse to pay for business or first class tickets and confine travel expenses to flights in the economy class. There are also funders that are reluctant to pay high salary costs; this line item depends on the project and organization, but in principle it can be said that anything over 50 percent of the total budget is considered excessive.
Other means of fund-raising include coalition building and tapping local sources, which often take the shape of private donations. Coalition building can be useful in cases where an organization itself is not able to accomplish a certain goal. If two or more organizations put their forces and resources together, however, they may be well in the position to achieve a common goal; beyond this, they may differ in their interest and policies.
The problem with coalitions, particularly in this part of the world, is that they are formed to obtain funds and once they receive them, they do not act as an umbrella but become an organization in itself. One way to avoid such a development is to have a coordinating committee and rotate the meetings within the member organizations.
11. The Palestinian Experience in Strategic Planning
Dr. Samih Abed
Palestinian Civil Society and the Event of the Palestinian Authority
The situation prevailing in the Palestinian civil society differs from that of any other Arab country; not because there is more freedom, but because the conditions that have created it are very exceptional. The lack of an authority, of a state, and of laws, etc., gave Palestinian civil society a major role in sustaining the society. Civil society has constituted an important part of Palestinian society and came into existence in response to particular circumstances and needs. The number of NGOs is estimated at some 1,800-2,000, which is a lot for a small country such as Palestine. In the past, the NGOs offered a variety of much needed services, and there is no doubt that in the absence of any law or authority many of them have made a valuable contribution to the development of the society at large.
With the emergence of a Palestinian Authority (PA), some sort of clash over responsibilities, pertinence, and relations was inevitable. The view on the part of NGOs is that with the event of the PA some of their previous power and responsibilities were taken away. The government wants to impose its control and authority over the NGOs and to build a system that is able to offer the necessary services, whereas the NGOs and other civil society organizations are afraid of losing part of their mandate, power, and financial income. Thus, there is unmistakably a conflict of interests, and the NGOs and charitable societies remain in a state of internal battle as to how to (re-)organize themselves and whether and how to form links with the governmental organizations that have appeared. The government, meanwhile, is trying to draw up laws and rules to regulate the relation between the two sides. Thus far, there has not been a great interference on the part of the PA in the work of the NGOs. Exceptions include those NGOs that have ceased to offer services, that do not offer services but only exist on paper, or those that do not offer the services they are supposed to provide. The NGOs in Palestine need to be evaluated in order to see which ones are working and which ones are not. Some NGOs have signs on their doors and spend money and yet there is no one inside the offices. This is what the PA opposes, at the same time as it helps those who benefit society.
Currently, there are hardly any governmental projects that do not involve the NGOs; even in cases where the government did not want them to be involved, the World Bank and donor countries insisted. The situation in Jerusalem, where the NGOs are still operating as before, is an exception, because the PA has no role there yet.
What is needed now is an open dialogue on how to organize and build the overall system and the relationship between the NGOs and the governmental organizations. This is part of the strategic plan; the planning process requires a system on which, among other things, an open dialogue between the governmental and non-governmental organizations can be built. Together the two sides should attempt to overcome prevailing problems, such as the wasta (connections) and the unprofessionalism that still characterizes many institutional and personal relations in our society. Although in comparison to Jordan, for example, this is as yet a rather small aspect, it must be dealt with now before it exerts a real influence. We must create a link between the civil society and the governmental organizations by means of rules and regulations that will ensure their complementing each other. NGOs are an extremely helpful force for the government because they offer important services to society. Strengthening NGOs is also important due to their role in pointing to many negative developments within the government, which are often more visible when viewed from the outside, and also because they have the direct contact with society. Due to this linkage with society, NGOs are also better aware of the real needs and appropriate services required. Thus, they can give valuable feedback to the PA, allowing both sides to correct the situation together.
One of the main subjects of contention regarding the conflict between the NGOs and the PA is that there is no transparency regarding spending by the NGOs. No one really knows where the money goes and it should be the PA’s right to ask the donors who support NGOs to explain where and how the funds are spent, just as these donors demand of the PA that it account for the money it receives. Transparency must be broad; it cannot be limited to the government’s activities.
However, the real problem lies not so much with the local organizations but with the international institutions. If an institution is supported by the World Bank or the EU, for example, there is a good chance that the support will continue, because it is in these institutions’ interest to go ahead with programs and projects once they have been initiated. Thus, there is an international system that tries to create links and extend its influence to parts of the society. There are positive and negative aspects: the positive include the support and assistance as such, the negative, the direct intervention in forming policies and strategies on the part of these foreign organizations. The organizations have preferences, influence, and political relations, and they are closely connected to political decision making. Many Palestinian NGOs maintain international relations, not only with donors, but also with governmental bodies that support some of the local NGOs, partly by connecting them with foreign NGOs. On the other hand, there is the PA, which is trying to build a system, establish a defined process, and to reach a future vision for development, based on specific strategies and reasonable policies. Translating these into concrete activities and projects creates a complex framework, and here lies the problem: How can a proper system be established to the benefit of the society while there are others who are building a number of additional systems? Clearly, a strategic and future-oriented policy must be formulated that defines the framework within the confines of which everyone will work and develop relations.
The Circumstances for Strategic Planning in Palestine
In Palestine, future-oriented strategic planning has only recently begun and it revolves mainly around political matters, relations, agreements, and related issues. In contrast to other countries, Palestine is trying to build itself from within a vacuum, not knowing where its borders are and what resources are available, and unable to enter freely into relations and exchanges with other countries or to mobilize and fully utilize the resources at hand properly. The options for Palestine are confined to specific political agreements that contain many obstacles, restrictions and constraints, and make planning very inflexible - even more so since Palestine relies completely on the donor community, which agreed to provide funds until we start to walk by ourselves and use our own resources.
One should bear in mind, that for the time being, any policy or strategy is confined to this framework and developed against this background. Any strategic planning effort for the improvement of the living conditions of the Palestinian people depended from the beginning on the financial support pledged by the donor countries. The World Bank took on the role of a ‘secretary’ to the donor community and had a significant say in formulating strategies and policies. There was substantial interference from international organizations, such as UNSCO and the World Bank, and the strategic plan that was drafted was not Palestine’s own plan, vision or strategy. The World Bank was deeply involved even in the first report on the Palestinians’ living conditions, on the basis of which the donor countries’ were to make their decisions concerning aid to Palestine.
For the Palestinian side this was the first experiment of this kind. The important thing was how to get over the bridges that the donor countries placed in front of us so that they would pledge $2.5 billion for five years. We called it an investment program, because it was not our own strategic plan. However, we needed to start somewhere, implement projects, especially concerning the infrastructure, and not waste time. The investment plan looked at ways to distribute the donor money over the years on specific projects that would help accomplish the vision we had. The focus on infrastructure – with projects related to water, electricity, wastewater, roads, etc. – was also meant to help the private sector start working.
When we began we were enthusiastic about achieving our goals, but we faced a lot of problems. We started with no institutions in place, which made it impossible to establish a system. The governmental organizations had the ability to spend millions of dollars in donor funds but there was no system or procedure for spending the money. Nevertheless, projects were drafted, feasibility studies conducted, and agreements reached on what must be done, and the required international procedures were fulfilled. Once we were ready for the implementation stage, however, all the problems in the world arose at once. The closure, for example, affected everything: materials could not be supplied, and people could not move from one place to another, etc., and all the projects were pushed back from the first year to the second year to the third, without results. This kind of shortcoming is nothing to be ashamed of: it was natural, in that we did not have the power nor the governmental organizations to grasp and deal with all these difficulties. There were people employed but no work mechanism had been established, and there was no system to follow, no experience and no rules. Things have slightly improved, but even today we have only a general framework for a development plan, not a plan itself. Within this general framework, there is a ‘menu’ from which the donor countries can pick the projects they want to support. This is far from being ideal but this is our situation. The structure of the government still requires a lot of work and the actual project undertakings amount to nothing, or very little.
There is a difference between the Planning Ministry and other ministries. In the Planning Ministry, we began planning with the resources available and then expanded the scope little by little with the ultimate goal being to provide work for everyone and to involve as many people as possible in the development process. At the very beginning we looked at the structures of planning ministries around the world, in countries such as Jordan, Egypt and those in Europe. There is no one structure that can be used as a model, because the circumstances and obstacles here are peculiar, and there are no parallels elsewhere in the world. The Jordanian development plan is excellent; we studied it in detail and it can be said that it stands out from amongst the economic plans that are being put into operation. No plan can be considered a ‘best model’ because the conditions differ from country to country. However, one can pick those elements that suit the given circumstances and elaborate on them, taking into consideration the resources available and other influencing factors. In Palestine, we are still in the process of creating a working system and we should look at the experiences of others – Jordan’s system, for example, has been in place for some 50 years – to learn from their lessons and search for ways to avoid or redress and restrict the mistakes they have made.
One of the early tasks the Planning Ministry set was to put down main goals and objectives, a strategy, and then ask every ministry for theirs. Every ministry had to reply and also name the projects it wanted to implement in order to accomplish its strategic goals. I believe it is natural for the Ministry of Planning to act as a coordinator between the different other ministries, and to decide on the changes in strategies as part of its national scanning operations. However, some ministries resisted this. The Ministry of Economy, for example, insisted on making its own decisions, and there were others that referred to their own leadership capacities and financial resources and refused to accept the coordinator role of the Planning Ministry. It needs time to develop and nurture relations built on coordination between those involved.
The agreements Palestine is bound to are restrictive in many ways, but despite all the threats and constraints we still have to work on our strategic goals and towards our vision, otherwise we will disappear. We must look for those instruments that can be utilized under the given circumstances; this is part of survival. For the time being, we also have to overcome bad ‘habits’ such as frequently employing one’s connections in order to achieve goals or at least get closer to achieving them, rather than follow a system.
Unfortunately, people tend to emphasize only the negative aspects, while the positive things are not even mentioned. Criticism, however, can lead to improvement, and it is certainly better to correct mistakes today than after ten years, by which time the problems might have reached unmanageable proportions.
The Planning Experience in Palestine
It appears that over the past 30 years there has been a tendency not to criticize, even in the positive sense. The Ministry of Planning is often accused of not having a plan, although there is strategic planning. There is an important difference between anything that is presented to the donor countries, because it is presented on the basis of a specific demand, and what is put down as our long-term strategy as part of the vision.
There is more than one definition concerning the meaning of strategic planning and this can lead to misunderstandings. There are different ways of interpreting and applying strategic planning, depending on the kind of problem that is being addressed or the type of goal that is aimed at. A strategy is specific and refers directly to development planning, whereas the word ‘development’ is somewhat vague, despite all the PhDs that have been written on the subject. There are many different theories and methods, and every country views the meaning of development from a different perspective.
Strategic planning has many perspectives and can be small-scale or large-scale; in the Middle East, for example, one could draw up a strategic plan on how to establish good relations with neighboring countries in the region. Part of any strategy is to build a system, which will then start to develop by itself and adjust with time; many things included in the early stages of a strategic plan might not be applicable five years later.
One should also bear in mind that vision, strategy, goals, and objectives, as well as the various models that can be applied to them, are only options. It is not a case of one plus one makes two. There are many factors that affect an issue, a tool or a decision.
The Palestinian Development Plan
The Palestinian Development Plan (PDP) was drafted in the context of the deterioration of the economic conditions – which led to a considerable decline in the per capita income and in the number of Palestinians working - of the post-Oslo era and the prevailing impediments to economic development in the Palestinian Territories. These impediments can be categorized as follows:
- External impediments:
Logistical reasons (goods, persons)
Limitations on access to and disposition of resources, including a discrepancy between donor investment targets and actual investment
- Domestic impediments:
Insufficient and deteriorated infrastructure
Inadequate regulatory framework
Limits of the new administration
The PDP was first presented in Paris in January 1996 and was intended to form a framework for ministries and institutions that would enable them to realize development objectives using strategies that take into account Palestinian needs, best-practice global experience and the constraining political and socioeconomic environment.
The PDP states as follows: "The Palestinian Development Strategy is a primarily private sector lid, an outward-looking and a human resource-based strategy."
It is outward looking inasmuch as it sees beyond the known limits and confines and takes into consideration the kind of external relations Palestine could have in the future. It is a human resource-based strategy, meaning it relies a great deal on the human resources available, because there are hardly any natural resources to utilize. Therefore, the emphasis is on how to mobilize the human resource most effectively and turn it into a positive factor in the strategic planning process.
The PDP, which is based on a medium-term planning approach and national objectives (not a wish list!) is designed as a ‘bottom-up’ capital-budgeting exercise that involves donors, government ministries, institutions, and the private sector, and encourages the participation of NGOs. The strengths of the PDP are as follows:
It clarifies the future recurrent cost implications
It explores domestic financing possibilities
It provides more consistent objectives and sectoral strategies in the ministries and institutions
It considers donor input, and
It addresses the constraining environment, by doing the following:
Considering the difficult logistics (e.g., Gaza Port, industrial estates)
Prioritizing projects approved by the joint Palestinian-Israeli committees (e.g., water projects)
Including projects not requiring mutual agreement (e.g., urban roads)
Following a three-year rolling plan for flexibility
On the way to accomplishing the plan, there are various intermediate objectives. The first one is to realize a maximum, sustainable and feasible economic growth rate, driven by an export-orientated private sector, based on the optimal use of resources. The question is how to reach economic growth in the light of so many obstacles, first and foremost the Israeli-imposed closures. The vision here is that even if there are closures and Israeli-controlled borders, economic growth can still be achieved. The starting point must always be the reality, the present situation one faces, and then the search for available opportunities during which more detailed questions arise, such as how to create productive employment for a fast-growing labor force; how to overcome the legacy of occupation and build the basis for environmentally sound and sustainable growth; how to improve access to the regional and international markets; how to develop an independent infrastructure with roads, electricity grids, etc.; how to develop and expand water resources; how to protect the environment by improving sewage systems; and how to reduce poverty and meet basic needs.
The national development objectives outlined in the PDP can be summarized as follows:
Employment generation and economic growth
Rural revival and development
Development of financial institutions and policies
Improvement of social conditions and human resources development
To achieve these objectives, the PDP foresees the establishment of policy and legal frameworks to foster private sector activities as the engine of growth, focus on good governance and improve the social services. Furthermore, the development strategies include limitations on direct government intervention, while, at the same time, they continue to build a stronger infrastructure, invest in education and rural development, and address the needs of the poor.
The PDP consists of the following four components:
Physical infrastructure and environment/natural resource management;
Institutional capacity building;
Human and social development;
Productive/private sector development.
Development strategies are processes that gradually build a system; there are various forces that come into play during the course of the plan, which make it a rather vibrant piece of work. The Palestinian Development Strategy was put together in 1994 and faced various changes over time with regard to the means and priorities, but the four main components remained the same. At the beginning, the experiences of other countries were considered and the plan was called ‘Preliminary Thoughts on Strategic Planning in the Palestinian National Authority’. A planning process was put together outlining long-term objectives as well as an envisaged development process. The idea was that the Ministry of Planning would work with the other ministries on strategic planning in order to attain a sound basis on which they would interact with each other as well as with other institutions. The aim was to coordinate and agree on general goals and mechanisms. Since then, many things have changed and the plan adapted to these changes in terms of concepts, not in terms of its components.
Each of these components has its own intermediate objectives and work plans as illustrated below. Each of these sub-categories can be called a strategy as each defines a certain goal or objective.
Infrastructure and Natural Resource Management
The objectives are to provide basic infrastructure - in accordance with human needs - where the private sector cannot, to develop outside trade links and to strengthen the public sector capacity in addressing environmental ‘hot spots’.
Institutional Capacity Building
The objectives are:
to strengthen the capacity to develop sectoral policies and enforce a good legal and regulatory framework;
to cultivate democratic and pluralistic norms and practices; and
to improve planning for sustainable service delivery.
Human and Social Development
The objectives are:
to sustain economic growth;
to reduce poverty; and
to improve the welfare of the population in the short-term with a focus on social assistance, housing, basic education and health care.
Productive Sector Development
The objective is to create an enabling environment for private investment in agriculture, industry, and tourism through the provision of infrastructure, support services and regulatory structures, term financing, and risk mitigation mechanisms.
The Palestinian plan drafted a short-term strategy, as opposed to one for the medium or long-term. There are different arrangements depending on the overall situation; sometimes there is both short-term and long-term strategic planning and in this case it is important to have a link between them, i.e., a mechanism to integrate the short with the long-term. Experience has shown that short-term planning is often more appropriate in unstable situations. In education, for example, the Palestinian Development Strategy foresees a reduction in the number of students per class from 60 to 20. This is a long-term plan as the number cannot be reduced within one year due to the lack of facilities. Until today, not a single five-year plan in any developing country has succeeded. In principle, a vision should not be restricted to a certain period, e.g., five years, since the future is not predictable and changes that have not been considered and integrated in the overall plan sometimes occur. Setting definite time limits is necessary but also difficult; if there is a five-year plan people want a solution in five years, and if a solution is not reached within that period they think the world will collapse. The world is moving and will continue to move and so will the overall development process; it is a continuous process.
Regardless of whether the plan is long- or short-term, one of the most important elements is the monitoring and evaluation process, which should be carried out on a regular basis (e.g., every year). Monitoring and evaluation helps assess changes, their effect on the plan, and whether the pursued policies are correct or need to be adjusted to suit the particular circumstances.
What was presented to the donor countries was a general framework for a three-year development program. The underlying concept was a strategy related to the above mentioned four major components. The content, however, was not fixed but more of a basic outline, because everything depends on external assistance and no one knew how much the donors would pledge.
The implementation of the PDP requires funding. Thus far only for 21 percent of the overall project funds have been secured. The infrastructure component has the highest funding needs, followed by the social/human sector, the productive sector and institutional capacity building. Continued financial and political donor support for economic development is crucial for the success of the PDP.
When planning for the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, we talk about the framework of a national development plan, a physical plan on the scale of the Palestinian Territories as a whole. However, due to political constraints - mainly the division into Zones A, B and C - it cannot be implemented properly. There are many districts that are not yet included within the PNA’s area of responsibility and the concerned areas cannot be included in many projects.
An article published in the English magazine The Architectural Review in a special issue on the Middle East (March 1998) has caused an uproar in the Israeli media. This was simply because the article, which dealt with the Palestinian National Plan, described some of the Ministry of Planning’s work on issues such as landscape, coordination, environment, etc., that embraced the whole of Palestine, i.e., including the Dead Sea area, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. When asked about this, Bar Ilan, Netanyahu’s advisor, said, "Those Palestinians are dreaming." I answered, "No, we are not dreaming: we are determined to accomplish this, whether it takes ten, 15, 20, or 30 years." This is no longer a vision only; determination is a strategy that leads to accomplishments.
12. Experiences in Strategic Planning and Institutional Development for Private Voluntary Organizations
A Case Study from Jordan Dr. Riad Al-Khoury
A. Strategic Planning and Institutional Development
Strategic planning involves establishing directions and priorities. Any organization needs such planning, but a PVO operating without it is taking a big risk. Undertaking programs and activities without knowing whether such efforts really meet members’ needs can continue for a long time in a nonprofit organization as a result of inertia or other causes. PVOs do not operate under a profit-and-loss constraint, and may go on unproductively as long as somebody is willing to supply a minimal amount of money and effort. To be effective and useful, a PVO must know where it is going and how to get there. To start working, a PVO needs a plan; to develop into an institution independent of its founders, it must keep planning.
However, no single correct way exists to develop and implement a strategic plan. The eight-step model given below is based on that developed by an American expert. Other models are obviously possible, but this particular one has been chosen for its brevity and simplicity.
1. Definition. This first step defines current and potential members, why they join, and whether their reasons for joining are likely to change with time. Having examined these issues, the following basic elements of a strategic plan can be developed:
Organizational values: the basic beliefs the PVO holds.
Vision: a clear statement of what the organization aspires to be in the medium- to long-term (five years plus). This is a declaration of what the organization will look like and how it will be positioned as a result of success; it is not a statement of what the organization does.
Mission: who makes up the organization, who it represents, who it serves, and, at a fundamental level, what business it is in.
Goals: in broad terms, what the organization does; its major strategic thrusts (such as education, legislation, research, and membership) over the next five years.
The following four steps can then be taken in order to launch the work of the organization:
2. Environmental analysis. What are the innate strengths and weaknesses of the organization in areas such as financial and human resources, technology, attitudes, commitments, and so forth? What are the external opportunities and threats?
3. Key issues. Which of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats are particularly relevant to each goal?
4. Focus. First, develop specific, measurable objectives: what is to be achieved under each goal during the medium-term (the next three years). Next, use a consensus process to rank the objectives by importance to determine which should receive immediate attention in the first year of implementation. Then develop specific strategies how to achieve objectives for the second-and third-year stages.
5. Action. Develop an annual budget and operating plan. The organization is now ready to start work. Schlegel calls this phase “alignment.”
6. Alignment. Once a shared vision has been developed, it is critical that all components of the organization’s staff, volunteers, and activities be aligned to achieve the goals and objectives laid out in the plan. There will be a period of transition. It may take over six months for staff and volunteer activities to be aligned with plan priorities.
The last two phases take the association into the phase of institutional development, through its first year and into the second.
7. Feedback and monitoring. Develop a system for ensuring that the reporting of all staff and volunteer work is linked to the strategic plan.
8. Refresh the plan. On an annual basis, the association needs to do the following:
formally review which high-priority objectives were achieved and which were not;
develop new three-year objectives (drawing on the lower-priority three-year objectives in the original planning process, adding new ones where appropriate, and discarding those no longer relevant); and
re-arrange the new three-year objectives so as to identify high-priority objectives for the coming year.
By now the organization should no longer simply be a collection of ideas and good intentions carried along by one or two people, but an institution developing along positive lines. Or so it is hoped.
B. Case Study: the Jordan Economic Development Association
The Jordan Economic Development Association is a private voluntary organization established in 1997 that seeks to be involved in policy research and advocacy in Jordan and elsewhere in the region.
JEDA may be characterized as a think tank/advocacy group (TTAG). TTAGs are involved in policy issues in one way or another. However, there is a spectrum of approaches to working in the policy area, some of which involve confrontation with policymakers, while others simply serve to increase the level of policy-relevant information available.
JEDA plans to be at the more aggressive end, and less of a pure research organization. To this purpose, working with similarly minded bodies, JEDA will pursue a range of activities normally undertaken by TTAGs, of course including research, but also such activities as specialized publishing, conferences, etc.
JEDA, like other PVOs in Jordan and the Arab World, is being launched in an atmosphere that presents a challenge for institution-building and the establishment of an effective civil society. In light of the changes that continue to shape the political and economic landscape in Jordan, PVOs continue to expand their role in the wake of a process of political and economic liberalization marked in particular by the parliamentary elections of 1989-1997. However, though the country’s system occasionally gives the impression of being somewhat progressive, it is still based on tradition. Despite an appearance of democratization, the tribal structure in Jordan has been preserved, and the government makes use of it.
The emergence of PVO TTAGs is Jordan and elsewhere in the Arab World is slowed by the cumbersome procedure required for certification as a nonprofit organization. It has been difficult for some in Jordan and elsewhere in the Arab World to accept that TTAGs act in the public good and deserve special status. In an effort to monitor the intentions of new nonprofit groups, many states in the Arab World require that applicants go through a screening process, which includes a number of government agencies, particularly the Ministry of Interior. The existence of such bureaucracy may reflect an effort to discourage the registration of certain extremist groups, but the end result is that many legitimate potential applicants are intimidated. Another obstacle faced by TTAGs is the absence of a clear law that can deal with PVOs as they are developing today.
Research activities of a limited nature are undertaken in Jordan’s business and PVO sector, but this remains limited. Jordan’s government bureaucracy and its universities are more active, with some of these universities in the private sector. While some research conducted there may have value for policymakers, there is little effort on behalf of or by many researchers to make such work accessible and to ventilate it through public debate. In the case of the Center for Strategic Studies based in Amman, some of whose research is useful and publicized, ties to the state-run University of Jordan comprise an integral part of its identity. Some thus consider the center’s objectivity to be limited by this affiliation.
Current members of JEDA are younger persons from the Jordanian socioeconomic elite who have joined on the initiative and invitation of the founder, myself. I in turn had been asked to establish JEDA by the Economic Development Institute (EDI) of the World Bank as the Jordanian partner in the Mediterranean Development Forum (MDF), an assembly of organizations and people involved in development in the Mediterranean region. Thus JEDA was conceived as an associate of other like-minded organizations. This is not to say that the sole for JEDA’s establishment was to meet the needs of the EDI, in that in general JEDA was formed in response to the need for an independent non-profit TTAG in Jordan. However, this need was also that of the EDI for the purposes of its MDF network.
The principal objectives of the MDF as declared by the EDI are to help
develop, codify, and distribute knowledge about best practice approaches to development (as well as pitfalls) from those engaged in a broad range of related sectors in the region and elsewhere throughout the world;
create a dialogue within the region among senior government officials, the development community, and the private sector on the importance of knowledge, and on strategies for building and mobilizing knowledge; and
explore the critical role of learning and knowledge in building effective management, good governance, and sustainable economic growth, through lessons drawn from the public, civil and business sectors, and investigate the impact of knowledge and information technology on economic growth, drawing attention to the interactions between institutions and technological developments that enable them to harness technology in productive ways to meet regional needs. It goes without saying that these activities are very close to the spirit of JEDA and in line with its plans.
2. Planning JEDA’s Work
JEDA’s founding members met and elected a board, which in turn asked me as president to develop a plan. The following basic elements of a strategic plan have been articulated, following Schlegel’s model:
Organizational values: the belief JEDA holds most dear is the freedom of the individual within a just state, active civil society, and dynamic business sector.
Vision: JEDA aspires to become within a five-year period an independent TTAG that is recognized locally, regionally, and internationally as a participant active in the debate on economic issues in the Arab World.
Mission: The organization was set up by a group of 11 Jordanian men and women who are educated and active in public life. Member’s backgrounds include among other areas: urban planning, political economy, law, health sciences, business research, culture, telecommunications, shipping, industry, computer technology, and infrastructure development. JEDA represents the county’s socioeconomic elite in the service of all people with a professional spirit and a belief in education. At a fundamental level JEDA is in the business of helping people to participate more actively in political, civil, and business life. JEDA is intended to be an independent entity, working on policy issues on both the research and advocacy sides, free of state, political party or narrow business control. JEDA plans to attempt to influence policy through intellectual argument and lobbying, seeking to inform and improve policy, educate the community, and act in the public interest, while displaying a high level of social science expertise and familiarity with government structures and processes.
Goals: The association’s major strategic goal for the next five years is to engage in educating the general public and those who are involved in debating and creating legislation. The importance of research in this process is central, and an enlarged membership of a few hundred people will be necessary to help make it successful.
Environmental analysis: JEDA feels that its strongest points are as follows:
independence (in an environment not characterized by private initiative);
integrity (in a system that is increasingly corrupt); and
professionalism (in an atmosphere where many people’s educational or professional qualifications are dubious).
The weaknesses are simply that JEDA is new, small, and inexperienced. The external opportunities include the rapid change in the political and cultural atmosphere in Jordan regarding freedom of expression and the increasing integration of Jordan into the international community on a technical level through communications and on a cultural plane through vastly expanded contacts with the outside world. The main threat facing JEDA is the indifference of many members of the socioeconomic group to which the association’s members belong. Insofar as they are satisfied with the current situation in the country, as many of them are, change will not be a priority for JEDA’s constituency, and that could kill the organization and/or its plans at an early stage.
Key issues: JEDA’s strengths of independence and integrity must be presented widely in the process of educating the general public and those who are involved in debating and creating legislation. So much in Jordan today is based on the corrupt wasta (connections), and JEDA must show that it is above this. Being new is a major weakness in trying to break into the research field in Jordan and the Arab World, which is still dominated by state-backed or influenced researchers. Rapid change is underlying the increased need for research, and this will be an opportunity to spur JEDA’s work. The threat of complacency could result in an enlarged membership becoming difficult to achieve.
Focus: Specific, measurable objectives to be achieved under each goal during the next year will include the doubling of the current training and conference activities planned during the first year (i.e., participation in implementing two training programs and four seminars); having an input in at least one piece of economic legislation and having this recognized publicly; publishing four short documents (based on the four seminars respectively); and reaching a target of 50 members by the end of 1998.
Action: The budget for the above will be covered by the initiation and membership fees of the current members and those who will be joining in 1998. An operating plan for all of this is being drawn up by the president and executive vice-president for approval by the board.
Independent TTAGs like JEDA may play a role in supporting democratic development through efforts to stimulate public debate and contribute to informed policy-making. However, these organizations do not, for the most part, have the luxury of a stable income, which university or government affiliation provides. To this end, JEDA must make the best use of its resources and develop an institutional capability.
For the time being, TTAGs in Jordan are mainly focusing on the quality of democracy and the public reaction to political change. As a result, economic issues have second priority. However, as some of the excitement of political developments pass, economic issues will receive increasing attention. JEDA plans to specialize in such topics, presenting policy recommendations in legal format and soliciting community input when developing a policy position by canvassing members of business and professional organizations. Policy issues the organization is planning to tackle during its first year include privatization and regional economic integration.
As far as possible, issues are considered within the context of development economics as applied to the Arab World. For example, a study of the impact of privatization on unemployment will give close consideration to questions of disguised unemployment, underemployment, and statistical and methodological problems of measuring the unemployment rate. (A look at unemployment through Western conceptual lenses would be less useful.)
JEDA’s first activity was a successful collaboration with the EU-funded Jemstone project and the EDI on a workshop for economic journalists held in Jordan 14-20 February. JEDA members participated in the workshop as speakers, introducing aspects of Jordan’s economy, and stressing the importance of certain sectors. The positive outcome of this participation by JEDA members was a result of their independence, integrity, and professionalism. In other words, what they had to say was said without fear, it was said with honesty, and the facts and opinions were those of people who knew what they were talking about. For 1998/9, JEDA is planning to continue working with Jemstone as well as identify and cooperate with other organizations that conduct training built around economic and business topics.
Two seminar activities are planned by JEDA for 1998. The first will be in cooperation with the South African government and will deal with the applicability of the Southern African model for regional economic development and integration in the Middle East. South Africa is a newcomer to the Arab World, and its representatives around the region are interested in making their country’s ideas better known. This event will have a minimal budget and will take place at the premises of the Amman Chamber of Industry. The audience would be a mixture of the relevant public sector officials, private businesspersons, journalists, diplomats, and experts. The number of participants should be 75-100, and would be limited by the proceedings being all in English with no translation.
The second activity is in conjunction with a “rehearsal” workshop to be held in Amman in preparation for a larger event to be held within the MDF gathering taking place in Marrakech in September 1998. The Amman activity will focus on the human development sector and in particular health and education. Participants will include experts from the World Bank/EDI, members of JEDA, some of its MDF partners from outside Jordan, as well as a small group of other Jordanians who are not JEDA members. About 35 people will participate.
These events are designed to generate favorable publicity for JEDA and to impress potential donors. Local funding is certainly available in Jordan, but our aim is also to attract interest from outside the country. The role of foreigners in the finance and co-sponsorship of our activities is set to emerge by the second half of this year, and to gradually increase over the next few years. Developing a long-range plan is one of JEDA’s priorities for late 1998 early 1999. The current process is one where much is being learned. The experience of small mistakes made now will help us to avoid bigger ones later.
3. Working With and Learning From Others
JEDA plans to coordinate its work with other organizations within and outside Jordan, though these may not be Jordanian. For the first year in particular, the MDF and its members will help provide a focus for JEDA’s work. The principal objectives of the MDF are to help develop, codify, and distribute knowledge about best practice approaches to development (as well as pitfalls) from those engaged in a broad range of related sectors in the region and throughout the world; create a dialog within the region among senior government officials, the development community, and the private sector on the importance of knowledge, and on strategies for building and mobilizing knowledge; explore the critical role of learning and knowledge in building effective management, good governance, and sustainable economic growth, through lessons drawn from both the public and private sector; and investigate the impact of knowledge and information technology on economic growth, drawing attention to the interactions between institutions and technological developments that enable them to harness technology in productive ways to meet regional needs.
MDF partner TTAG PVOs in the Arab World with a similar orientation to JEDA’s include Maroc 2020 (M2020), the Institut Arabe des Chefs d’Enterprise (IACE) of Tunisia, the Egyptian Center for Economic Studies (ECES), and the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies (LCPS). What can JEDA learn from them, and how can this information contribute to strategic planning? In particular, which mix of research and advocacy is the most effective?
While these groups have received support from business leaders, their members are from a variety of backgrounds. M2020 and IACE were founded almost entirely by businessmen. M2020 took shape behind the public image of its leader, Ali Belhaj, and is comprised of businessmen with an average age of under 40. These felt that their generation had to take responsibility for the future of Morocco, using the ophthalmic term for good vision - “2020” - to express a vision to the year 2020. IACE was formed by some of Tunisia’s most prominent businessmen to strengthen the voice of the business community by providing high quality economic analysis and opportunities to discuss issues of common concern. ECES is also backed by high-placed business leaders. However, it has made concerted efforts to involve individuals who represent different sectors of civil society. While LCPS may not have been able to exist as it does today without the generosity of benefactors from the business community, the organization began mainly as an academic institution centered around the work of a father and son team teaching at a local university. JEDA already has a mixture of business and professional people and aims to keep the balance among them. We do not however plan to introduce major participation by the country’s universities.
IACE includes both university faculty and business leaders in its research teams in an effort to improve the policy awareness of academics while also increasing the practicality of their policy recommendations. IACE centers its annual program around a single conference. IACE’s event, entitled “Business Enterprise Days,” sets its research agenda for the year and is intended to help Tunisian executives to identify problems associated with Tunisian business firms as the driving force of the economy. JEDA could embark on something similar during its second year.
Morocco 2020 (M2020) was able to determine its potential for influence on two of its main policy issues judging by the reaction of certain high-ranking officials, who were asked to comment publicly on their proposals. In the case of education reform, the Minister of Education agreed to speak and shortly after this, a reform law was passed that had many of the same elements included in M2020’s proposal. In the case of telecom’s privatization, the Finance Minister refused to speak. This reform eventually was pushed forward, but it is more difficult for M2020 to take any credit for this in light of the minister’s reaction. ECES has found that its contribution on issues such as Egyptian trade with the European Union have been quite significant. JEDA plans to target such decision-makers and influence their actions in a professional and transparent fashion for the good of the country.
LCPS efforts to encourage reform of Lebanon’s election law have brought this issue into the public eye and on to the policy agenda. LCPS has also gained recognition for its leadership in the movement to decentralize government services in Lebanon. On the other hand, LCPS recognizes as a weakness in its work the lack of readership among top decision-makers. It thus ends up, in the words of LCPS Research Director Paul Salem, as “enlightening the bourgeoisie and intellectuals,” which are presumably relatively least in need of enlightenment in Lebanon. This may not be the case in Jordan, however, and JEDA plans during its first few years to target the intellectual and socioeconomic elite of the country.
Despite the difficulties, which these and other TTAGs in the region have faced and continue to endure, a lot has been achieved. JEDA is fortunate in enjoying the moral support and in having the good example to follow of its MDF partners. The pitfalls and obstacles they encountered will serve as a valuable lesson.
13. Monitoring and Evaluation - An Introduction to the Palestinian Context
Dr. Ishaq Al-Qutub
The Challenges Ahead
Monitoring and evaluation is an important concept for any organization, regardless of whether it is a non-governmental organization or from the private or the public sector, although the need for it may be greatest in the latter. Monitoring and evaluation is a modern tool that should ideally be used for every activity undertaken in management and planning processes, and particularly in dynamic environments that are subject to instability and rapid changes.
Palestinian society is passing through a transition stage, from occupation to independence, from military rule to a civil society, from religious to secular, from underdeveloped to developing, from individualistic to pluralistic, from traditional to modern, and from reliance on foreign donations to gradual reliance on its own resources. In a transitory situation one is likely to make mistakes, get into some difficulties and run into problems. It is therefore crucial to apply monitoring and evaluation for policies, plans and development projects.
There are many challenges ahead for Palestinians; first, to achieve self-dependence, i.e., to rely on their human, financial and natural resources. To become economically independent does not mean complete economic dependence – no country in the world enjoys this – but a gradual economic independence, related to trade relations and a balance of import and exports, etc. Research and press reports suggest that 85-90 percent of the Palestinian economy depends on Israel. From this starting point, how can the Palestinian economy become gradually independent and part of the world society, especially in view of the general trend towards large corporations, mergers of companies, regional alliances, and globalization, etc.? The Palestinians are still concerned with internal and local matters, and this often makes many people forget to look at Palestine as part of a larger picture. Palestine is on the world map, though not in the most desirable way, and this is one of the big challenges.
A second challenge is to reach the stage where the rule of the law prevails. Thirdly, there is the challenge of democratization and equality, including the field of gender. What does equality, citizenship, and democracy etc. actually mean, and how are gender issues dealt with? It is a challenge by itself to accept and formulate processes and directives that suit a particular society with its traditions and norms. The challenge here is not to copy models from the East or West but to fit them in in a way that meets the Palestinian needs, values, circumstances and cultural background.
Other challenges that Palestinians face include achieving unity – culturally, politically, economically - and solidarity within the constitutional structure. There is an urgent need for increased interaction between the West Bank and Gaza, in terms of coordination, merging, and cooperation. Most private sector activities are as yet individual family-run institutions. There is great potential to develop and work together.
Economic, political, institutional, and even human power is another serious challenge, as is the question of how to develop a civil society at a time when Palestinian family, social and tribal relations are going through a stage of change. The presence of institutions, especially of the kind that provide for the basic needs of the individual, family and the society at large, must be strengthened.
Society worldwide is undergoing rapid change; within a changing global dynamics the Arab countries are trying to attain the same level of progress that was attained by the developed countries only after 50 or 60 years of effort. The fast changes in relations, values, traditions, education, the mass media, technology, etc., turn us into strangers to our society. I was once in Kuwait and I felt very alienated simply because everything - from watches to clothes, furniture and appliances - is imported, and all the advertisements are foreign. There is nothing original, Arab, or Kuwaiti. The Islamic and Arab culture was once supreme in the world, but now the Arab World imports from and follows other cultures. In light of the global development we have to ask ourselves, what kind of society do we envision in five or ten years from now?
There must be a concept concerning how to deal with such change and how to control external forces and create an environment that helps achieve the type of change desired. Everyone should be involved in this process and take part in planning and implementing the desired change; it cannot be limited to a few - Arafat, the Palestinian Legislative Council, or the government – but should be looked at like a symphony where everyone plays his/her certain part. In order to introduce changes and achieve the results envisaged, monitoring and evaluation is required.
The Public, Private and NGO Sector in Palestine: Status and Problems
In any society one can find three main sectors: the public, the private and the NGO sector. Each of these should be critically analyzed in terms of performance and achievements.
The Public Sector
In the Palestinian public sector, for example, one could examine whether the ministries hire the right people for the right position, how they deal with issues such as motivation, incentives, civil codes, wasta (connections), etc. Other questions include responsibilities like who responds to faxes or answers the telephone, and whether all general directors actually work or are just token figures. A critical evaluation needs also to examine what steps have to be taken to improve the public sector and monitoring the progress in implementing projects inherent in the three-year Palestinian Development Plan (PDP).
The public sector has responsibilities in legislation, control, auditing, fiscal policy, and certain other fields where it is the only sector involved. Therefore, the role of the public sector must be clearly defined and allow for transparency and accountability.
The Private Sector
The private sector is active in all aspects of social and economic development and is naturally exposed to an environment of competition. Competition can be very healthy in that it enforces quality control, i.e., the need to offer better services and provide better goods.
In the Palestinian private sector, one of the main problems is that 70 percent of the establishments are one-man or family businesses; big companies and the merging of smaller ones would increase the overall strength of the sector. In making an evaluation it is not enough to recognize and examine a problem: there must also be attempts to find ways to solve it. Another problem of the private sector in Palestine is that its objective is to achieve quick profit. This often results in a certain readiness to violate taboos and act disgracefully, for example, by selling expired or unclean food. What is needed here is a control mechanism that targets the conscience of the private sector and makes it aware that such violations are illegal and harm the citizen’s security and health. The issue of monopolies and the phenomenon of companies bringing in Israeli goods at the expense of local produce are other examples. There must be an emphasis on Palestinian production; it is enough that the Israelis take Palestinian produce and goods and label them ‘Made in Israel’. The Palestinian private sector has a huge and important responsibility for growth and development, be it rural, urban or industrial. One of its roles is to produce and provide consumer goods, and the goal should be to achieve that in five years, for example, ten percent of all milk products sold in Palestinian shops are pure Palestinian-made. However, there is currently a lack of vision and of adequate policies and coordination, and thus there is no common strategy to achieve such a goal. In some areas in Palestine one finds all kinds of shops, while in others there is a clear lack in the distribution of services. Sometimes, for example, one finds three pharmacies within 200 meters of each other. Therefore, the problem-solving process has to start with finding ways to reinstate national awareness - not via stones or arms, but through self-respect, improved productivity and the will to strengthen our identity, presence and existence. The private sector needs guidelines as to how to operate and coordinate for the benefit of its clients, the citizens.
The NGO Sector
The NGO sector also encounters a wide range of problems. NGOs should undertake a self-assessment and examine their role in contemporary Palestinian civil society. This would help in developing a clear vision of where the NGOs stand today and where they would like to be in the future. On the basis of such an examination long-term and strategic objectives could then be developed.
The role of the NGOs must be clearly defined. NGOs are to complement the work of governmental institutions and the private sector, rather than compete with them, and they are usually established in fields where the other two sectors fail to provide adequate services or to reach the target group in need.
Relationships Among The Sectors
No organization is an isolated unit. There are always others, partially duplicating the same activities, sometimes doing a little more or better, sometimes a little less or worse in terms of quality and quantity.
In Palestine, a public sector emerged only recently with the arrival of the Palestinian National Authority. Previously, there was an Israeli public sector that interfered and controlled to some extent facilities such as education, but it was more of a military rather than a developmental type of control. Most services were rendered by Palestinian NGOs, which now find themselves in a situation where they have to define their vision, mission, and objectives and to develop their relations with the public sector and vis-à-vis newly emerging dimensions, frontiers, and organizations.
On the national level there are certain development objectives, such as economic growth, job creation, rural development, building infrastructure and institutions, improving the social conditions, etc. NGOs should see themselves as an integral part of these national objectives and plan in light of these goals. By doing this they are more likely to obtain financial support, because their work will complement the national effort, for which the donors are contributing huge amounts of money. There is now a public sector, and whether it is good or bad, the NGOs will be obliged to find ways to adjust to new situations.
In setting up a project, NGOs should be as specific or project-orientated as possible. This will provide a sense of direction and help in achieving stronger management and the improved utilization of resources. Wherever relevant it is essential to identify public and private institutions for cooperation or coordination in terms of sharing resources or facilities, in order to reinforce the impact of a certain project or to avoid conflict or confrontation. Both the government and the NGOs must be aware of what they can do and what they cannot do, i.e., where their limits are within a given set of rules and regulations. Without knowing the weaknesses and strengths of the public sector, NGOs cannot complement weak points and capitalize on strong ones. Joint activities with the public sector can be of advantage for both sides in terms of coordination, complementing, and sharing of resources, information, and expertise.
Among the NGOs themselves specific kinds of relationships exist. However, the future existence, sustainability and continuity of each NGO depends on the strength it displays in contributing to national development. If NGOs do not meet society’s requirements, they will be short-lived. In order to be sustainable, NGOs often need to act together, to coordinate and cooperate in similar programs. The future of NGOs will be globally determined by larger organizations, collectives, unions, etc.; small isolated shops will in the long run be forced to close.
Joint projects and planning, sharing experiences and activities, and developing common action are ways to help build stronger organizations and networks and avoid duplication. Unfortunately, NGOs in Palestine often tend to depend on certain people, basically the director or chairperson, while the rest of the staff are there simply for specific administrative and project tasks. If NGOs acted as a group, they could do much more. Therefore there must be better interaction and coordination of resources in order to improve their contribution to society.
The private sector has its own strengths, institutions, manpower, resources, etc., and both the public and NGO sectors could coordinate resources and plans for the benefit of the society and the national goals.
The Importance of Monitoring and Evaluation
In light of the above, any organization, no matter whether it belongs to the private, public or NGO sector, should have a unit or a department for monitoring and evaluating its activities. In Palestine, planning, monitoring and evaluation are very important because they lead to the identification and implementation of necessary and desired changes.
Palestinian society as a whole is passing through a stage of change, which makes it even more important to plan, monitor and evaluate appropriate policies and projects. Some 60 percent of the Palestinian population live in rural areas, the great majority of which suffer from a lack of infrastructure and services. Rural development is therefore one of the main components of the Palestinian National Development Plan, which includes the construction or expansion of roads, schools, and other facilities, and facilitates the process of the urban and rural societies growing closer to each other. It is estimated that approximately 72 percent of the rural areas are in urgent need of modernization, development and growth. The other 28 percent remain under direct Israeli occupation and, thus far, have not been touched by the various development projects.
The donors’ support to Palestinian institutions relies to a great extent on the success of current projects and their prospects for sustainability. This applies to both the public and the NGO sector. One can safely say that the NGOs depend on foreign aid for up to 90 percent of their needs. This aid, of course, is not permanent, which means that the development of local human and material resources must be emphasized to prove that we can do something for ourselves. In order to achieve this, there must be transparency, accountability, reporting, monitoring and evaluation.
The concept of monitoring and evaluation are often misinterpreted. It is an effective tool, but not yet institutionalized and thus, not always accepted and often seen as a threat. For example, I participated in a team for the evaluation of The Women’s Center for Social and Legal Counseling. First, a plan was prepared to evaluate the center’s structure and accomplishments over the past five years, on the basis of which we were asked to come up with suggestions as how to develop the center’s plans and activities for the next five years. We drew our conclusions after meetings with the board members and the employees, holding a workshop for the employees and the managers, and visiting similar organizations to inquire about the kinds of problems they address and encounter. The employees of the Women’s Center were very motivated and cooperative and the board fully supported the process. Evaluation and monitoring is now an integral part of the system.
Projects undertaken by government and NGOs alike should not only be accountable and transparent but also aim at institutionalization and decentralization. Decentralization gradually gives the responsibility of taking decisions gradually to those concerned within the system, i.e., it delegates authority and increases people’s participation and empowerment. A new state or state in the making needs foundations and laws and other provisions for the national system. People at all levels need to be trained and prepared to take on certain responsibilities to share the tasks ahead. This process needs monitoring so that the damage is minimized and the benefits maximized. In Britain and the US, the process began with federal government, and gradually, when municipalities and local authorities were formed, authority was delegated.
14. Monitoring and Evaluation – Framework and Tools
Dr. Ishaq Al-Qutub
The Planning/Evaluation/Monitoring Cycle
Projects vs. Programs
A project is a planned undertaking of interrelated and coordinated activities designed to achieve certain specific objectives within a given budget and period of time. A project is generally part of a broader undertaking such as a development program, to which it will only make a contribution.
A program is a coherent framework of action to achieve certain global objectives, comprising a separate set of activities (grouped under different components), which are oriented towards the attainment of specific objectives. It therefore consists of interventions on a larger scale than a project and may actually include several projects whose specific objectives are linked to the achievement of the higher level common objectives.
Needs Assessment and Collection of Information
The cycle of planning, monitoring and evaluation begins with a needs assessment and the collection of information relevant to desired goals and indicators to be measured. The information gathered must be applicable to the needs, the reality, the environment, socioeconomic characteristics, and the services already available in an area, in order to build the necessary foundation for the plan. This becomes more important in view of the limited resources.
Any project/program, whether small or big, far-reaching or limited in scope, regional or national, begins with a needs assessment. It must be clear who decides on priorities and defines the needs. For example, a refugee camp may ask for a sewage network, while the donors offer to improve the telephone system. A strategic plan will help here, because it takes into consideration the available resources and the actual problems and constraints. It is always necessary to revise the plan and examine whether it corresponds to the needs of the people or not, i.e., one must ensure that the plan is reasonable, logical, practical, and worth providing money for. For example, if building a school or a road is a priority for the community, the various aspects of the implementation, operation and maintenance should all be taken into consideration, e.g., instruments, computers, desks, equipment, personnel, training capacities, etc. A plan should never be over-ambitious, because then it may not achieve more than 50 percent of its objectives; a plan should be feasible and respond to a clearly identifiable need.
Information is the basis of all planning; without an appropriate assessment of the prevailing conditions and resources, planning will fail. In order to do an assessment data is needed, for example, on the population, the environment, agriculture, industry, the people’s current situation, their needs, characteristics and professional backgrounds, the social situation, current diseases, etc. Then key performance indicators (KPI) are determined in accordance with the compiled data. It is a bottom-up process and requires the participation of as many target group members as possible. If a program for a village is to be drawn up, for example, one has to go out into the field, see the reality, and ask the villagers what they need and involve them in the planning, implementation and evaluation process.
There are many different tools and methods for research and data collection. These include questionnaires, interviews, focus groups, group discussions, observation, inspection and secondary sources, such as reports and documents. Each tool helps monitoring and evaluating but it is always good to diversify rather than use only a single tool. The tools themselves are usually prepared by a specialist (e.g., a sociologist, social worker, psychologist, economist), depending on the project and issues to be evaluated. For the collection of information one can draw on primary and secondary data sources. Secondary data sources are all kinds of existing material on a certain project, such as the publications of the Central Bureau of Statistics. If the needed information is not available or additional data is required it must be collected from primary sources.
One method often used is the Participatory Rapid Appraisal (PRA), an exercise that is carried out by involving the concerned community in defining needs. For example, if one wants to examine the industrial situation, one could go to relevant departments in the Ministry of Industry and other offices concerned with industrial development and inquire what information is important for these institutions, what kind of problems are encountered regarding the collection of information, etc. A PRA gives a quick initial idea, on the basis of which more detailed surveys can then be conducted.
Baseline Data Survey
At the outset of each project a baseline data survey should be carried out; it provides the necessary information on the real environment, context and situation of a certain issue or project and builds the basis for monitoring and evaluation activity. For example, the information that in the last five years 1,500 pupils entered school is insignificant by itself if one cannot assess what progress it implies, i.e., what the situation was like five years ago. Raw statistics are meaningless unless they are compared to a base. A baseline survey is therefore the precondition to discovering project impacts and effectiveness.
The baseline survey is the starting and reference point upon which achievements are judged at any stage in the project process. Baseline surveys are the scientific basis used to assess and measure progress and to assure the availability of qualitative and quantitative data. Baseline data therefore facilitates and/or assists management tasks, decision- and policy-making, and planning. One of the mechanisms for putting a baseline in place and collecting data is to do a pilot study. The pilot study is an experimental step, on the basis of which one can ensure the success of a broader program or of a certain style or method of work. It also gives a first insight into the manpower situation, i.e., data on employees, their distribution, qualifications, training status, experience, education, etc.
Baseline surveys are also important in terms of cost effectiveness, especially in a country such as Palestine, which depends to a great deal on external resources. Here, the availability of adequate baseline data helps those responsible to make reality-based decisions, execute projects and policies cost effective, and bring about the desired results.
Before starting with a baseline survey, one must be aware of the difference between quantitative and qualitative data. Quantitative data is basically related to numbers connected to the economy, population, education, consumer and production figures, health, diseases, services, etc. Qualitative data is not measured with numbers but in terms of professionalism, stakeholder satisfaction, efficiency, effectiveness, and related criteria. Examples are the quality of life, the quality of material, quality of food, quality of education, quality of health services, and so on. With regard to the private sector, quality of service, i.e., the way to deal with clients and customers, is important. In human relations the quality of behavior is important, i.e., one’s manners, ethics and attitudes.
An example from The Palestinian Council for Housing will illustrate the concept of a baseline survey. A housing project had as a goal and mission the intention to address the housing problem and provide low-income housing. The first step was to decide what information was needed in the framework of the housing project (baseline survey). On the micro-region level (e.g., Gaza, Nablus, or Hebron) information about the population was identified (e.g., number of inhabitants, average size of family and house, marital status, etc.). Then data on the housing situation was collected (e.g., number of existing housing units, average number of people per unit, number of people per room, age and status of the houses, need for repairs, ownership status, etc.). Next, the income situation was examined (e.g., average monthly income, sources of income, total family income, workers per household, household expenditure, etc.). Other important information required included the availability of land for the project (PNA-controlled, farming land, etc.) and the location (village or city, in the north or south, on hills or on the plain, etc.). Finally, the cost factor needed to be considered. Since the vision was to build housing units affordable by people with a low income, the cost was set between $20,000 to $25,000. However, by the time the housing had been completed, the cost had reached $55,000. Thus, the project did not reach the people with low incomes. Therefore it is important to know the real cost of building a house in a certain area and levels of income distribution.
Once a project is designed, the process of securing adequate financing becomes the major task. This means that at the baseline stage, information on the sources of funding (e.g., private banks, other financial institutions, loan-giving institutions, etc.) and their respective conditions must be collected and computerized in the form of a report or database.
The collected information allows those involved in the project to state what exists at a particular time interval in terms of housing, i.e., the status quo, and what needs to be done in order to reach the goal of improving the overall housing situation. The baseline data describes and assesses the total number of housing units needed within a given period, taking into consideration how many years the completion of housing units will take and how much money and manpower is required, etc. The baseline serves also as a reference against which the success of the project will be measured in the future.
Planning and data collection is a two-way process. In order to plan, data is needed as well as a plan to obtain the data. Both are important, because without data one cannot plan and data must be collected according to a plan. When collecting information, the tools that are used are very important if one wishes to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the data.
Key Performance Indicators (KPI)
KPIs are developed from the information obtained through the baseline survey and/or workshops, brainstorming sessions, etc. KPIs relate to the expectations of the stakeholders (donors, administrators, the board of directors, the beneficiaries, and others involved in the project) as well as to the prevailing local project conditions (political, socioeconomic, etc.) and their suitability for the planned project. Every organization should have a set of qualitative and quantitative indicators that allow it to measure the extent to which it achieves its goals in accordance with the vision, the strategy, and the operational objectives.
In formulating a list of KPIs, one should ask questions such as what constitutes high project performance, what are the project objectives, and what aspects of good participation/governance should be measured? Furthermore, the indicators should respond to the set assumptions and goals and be valid, relevant, sensitive, specific, cost effective and timely. Without indicators the work will be somewhat random and without direction.
Sustainability and Surveillance
Collection of adequate information is also a precondition for sustainability or continuity. No one wants a project to go half way and then collapse. For example, if some donor countries donate half a million dollars for building a hospital, as well as constructing and equipping it, those concerned should also prepare a plan of operation and a budget, and make sure that the necessary staff are available, etc.
Projects are usually there to change - not protect - the status quo; if the desired change is to be sustainable, durable and effective it must be institutionalized, i.e., become part of people’s lives and resources, part of the social and economic system. Institutionalization is the establishment of systems for others to follow. It is a long process, and it can take years for a change or goal to be institutionalized. If projects are executed without evaluation and monitoring, their results will not be institutionalized and the same mistakes will be repeated.
One of the problems with sustainability in Palestine and other developing countries is that most of the inputs – expertise, money, technology, etc. – comes from the East or West, while local capabilities are not sufficiently invested. As a result, the expansion and growth achieved will not sustain. In the late 1980s, a Western finance minister once said that the aid of the donor community amounts to technological colonialism. Technology is changing rapidly. By the time less developed countries adapt to it, new inventions and technologies are created by the West and the cycle continues. In order to achieve sustainability, the countries in the South must challenge the tradition of importing technology, be creative and innovative, and try to substitute some of the imports with their own body of knowledge.
Another related issue is surveillance, which requires the setting up of a mechanism to control the process. Sustainability surveillance is similar to a cost-benefit analysis; it raises awareness of how money, time and other resources were spent and whether these expenditures were worth it.
Indicators, Management and Service Quality
Every project needs monitoring indicators in order to assess and evaluate progress. If an organization has no indicators, or those in place are not relevant, new ones must be created. In this context a comparison with the inputs of other institutions working in the same field should be made.
Another important issue is management quality, which is the basis for a good project; without it the project is futile. Management quality means managing the four ‘M’s efficiently: money, man, machinery and material. Indicators for management are, for example, the work turnover, quality of output, production and services, effectiveness, the team spirit of the employees, the way a project operates, utilization of resources, and/or the employees’ commitment to and satisfaction with what they are doing. The quantity of services alone is not sufficient: it is the quality that matters.
In governmental and non-governmental offices a lot of time is wasted, mainly due to carelessness; a great deal of time is spent eating hummus and ful together, reading the newspaper, getting together for a cup of tea, telephoning, inquiring about how one’s children are, leaving early for appointments and returning late, forgetting appointments and having to re-arrange them, etc. This kind of work mentality derives from the feeling that one does not have to be productive.
Besides management quality it is essential to ensure service quality in terms of both the goods that are produced and the services that are provided. Service quality means nothing but the best. Staff should perceive the need to constantly raise the quality level; if this is not possible, there should be at least an attempt to sustain a certain standard. One of the problems the Palestinians face in the economic sphere is the fact that quality standards are poor. The European market, for example, has a set of criteria and if these are not met, goods and services will not be allowed to enter the market. Organizations or initiatives that are concerned with consumer protection and welfare, such as those found in the West, help in guaranteeing quality.
Evaluation and Monitoring
Monitoring and evaluation should be a continuous process throughout the project cycle because it contributes to project sustainability, the attempts to stay on the right track, and ensures its implementation. Problems that arise will be dealt with at the right time, so that the path of work can be corrected before it is too late. Therefore, monitoring and evaluation should be continuous; it should begin with the planning phase and be carried out throughout the implementation phase as well as at the conclusion of a project.
Evaluation tries to measure effectiveness, results, and outputs of a project in comparison to the inputs, the degree to which change has taken place, and the areas of impact of the project. Evaluation thus refers to all kinds of changes with regard to the socioeconomic life, the planning process, the strengthening of local capacities, and the increase in opportunities for self-reliance.
Evaluation should therefore be an integral component of the project/ program’s work plan from the very beginning. The work plan is outlining the operation system for the entire project, including the division of labor, the anticipated expenses, the various steps to be taken, and so on.
Monitoring is referring back, continuously or in stages, to the activities in a program, in order to keep track of the program’s implementation and ensure that it takes places within the framework of the set goals. Monitoring means surveying the different steps of a project, including the time factor, the activities and the budget expenditures, and assessing its weak and strong points, i.e., whether a certain service reaches the target group and to what extent. Monitoring should adhere strictly to objectives of the project because it is costly, takes time, and requires people.
Continuous monitoring provides valuable feedback on the overall performance of a project as well as on the implementing organization. The eventual goal of monitoring is to draw conclusions and transmit the knowledge and experience gained to other projects and/or organizations. In order to be beneficial, monitoring must express the lessons learned. Accountability and transparency constitute a problematic issue because there are always organizations that do not want to reveal to the public their financial assets nor the components of their spending. The public that is being served, however, should have the right to receive information on the activities, the projects, and the funds received and spent.
The goal of evaluation and monitoring is to increase the efficiency of projects, allocate time, human and material resources in the best possible way, and secure the sustainability of the development process initiated. Monitoring and evaluation should take into consideration the following:
The participation in the process not only of the top management but of all those involved in the project.
The use of scientific methods and a guarantee of objectivity.
Institutionalization, including the provision of job descriptions for those whose duties and responsibilities involve monitoring and evaluation.
Coordination and cooperation between the different departments in the organization.
Knowledge of the techniques and methods of data gathering and computerization.
Readiness to acquire experience in the management and maintenance of projects and to draw on the lessons learned.
At the beginning of the monitoring and evaluation process, basically two things are examined: the finances and the activities in relation to the timetable (starting and end dates). In other words, a comparison between the project plan and the actual outcome and an examination of the variants that occurred and the reasons behind them. For example, a project might have been scheduled to start on May 15 but instead it started on 15 July. In tracing the reason future delays can be avoided.
Financial monitoring traces the budget allocation for the different line items of a project and looks at how much and on what money was spent. In this context, Indicative Planning Figures (IPF) are often used. For example, a rural development project might involve an area of 12 villages and a population of 1.5 million. The question then is how to distribute the available funds among them: e.g., by size of population (i.e., amounts per capita) or the degree of poverty in each village?
To sum up, the objectives of monitoring and evaluation are as follows:
Assess performance, impact and trends
Generate and test hypotheses
Support interactive approaches
Provide data for policy making
Measure achievements of objectives and relevance
Assist future project design, implementation and policy formation
15. Monitoring and Evaluation - The Program Cycle
Dr. Ishaq Al-Qutub
The Program Cycle
esign, monitoring and evaluation, all of which are management functions, are undertaken within the context of the programming cycle. Evaluation is usually identified both as a management function and as a phase of the programming cycle. The programming cycle comprises of several phases that interact with one another; the main phases are planning, design/formulation, monitoring/implementation, and evaluation:
Design questions belong to the formulation phase, but they are best addressed when the preparation of the program/project has been completed in the planning phase, which comprises of the crucial stages of project identification and project appraisal. A good design provides a clearer guide to implementation and a better basis for evaluation.
Monitoring and evaluation require clear identification of problems, precise statements of objectives showing the changes to be achieved, and a detailed description of the delivery mechanisms (planning and formulation phases), as well as the collection of relevant information on the changes that actually occur (implementation phase). Although monitoring and evaluation are complementary and aim at improved management, they are distinct functions with specific purposes.
Monitoring questions apply to the implementation phase and deal with the process of transforming inputs into outputs through activities. Monitoring is, thus, primarily concerned with the delivery process throughout a period of time and assessing the quantity and quality of the program/project outputs and activities.
Evaluation questions are concerned with the effects and impact of outputs and activities assessing the actions or reactions of those affected by the program/project at a certain point in time, either during implementation (interim and final evaluations) or after the completion of activities (ex-post evaluation). Monitoring and evaluation results must be fed back into the implementation of ongoing activities and the planning of new activities.
The Project Document
A well-designed program/project requires a clearly formulated project document, which highlights the logical linkages between the required inputs, planned activities, expected outputs, and objectives. The latter should state what change will be brought about to contribute to the solution of the identified problems and/or satisfy the identified needs.
The Functions of a Project Document
A project document fulfills three main functions: it serves as a contract, as a guide to planning and implementation, and as a basis for monitoring and evaluation.
The project document establishes the basis for accountability and lays down the obligations of each of the partners, which are usually as follows:
The host country (government, employers’ organizations, other NGOs)
The UNDP or other international agency
The financing source(s).
Guide to planning and implementation
The project document describes the situation that gave rise to the program/project and explains the reasons why the program/project is undertaken. It establishes the plan for what will be done, what will be produced, when and by whom. It also describes the situation that is expected to exist at the end of the program/project and what is expected to happen after the program/project ends.
Basis for monitoring and evaluation
The project document provides the basis for assessing the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability of a program/project. It establishes the criteria by which the success (or lack of success) of the program/project will be evaluated. For example, one could look at how many people benefited, how their lives, practices, habits or participation have improved, how the project has contributed or led to decentralization, institutionalization, and whether its results are sustainable.
Contents of a Project Document
Each project document should have a precise, clear and inclusive executive summary, that contains a brief background to the project, summarizes the pre-project situation and the rationale that led to the project, and gives a succinct description of the project status, objectives, major activities, area of operation, and the anticipated inputs. The purpose of the evaluation (e.g., project efficiency, output, relevance) and the objectives of the evaluation mission should also be stated. For mid-term evaluation, for example, the purpose would be to assess the progress made in achieving the project’s objectives, based on the key performance indicators.
For example if a project involves building more schools, the actual increase in the number of schools is not an indicator; the success of the project is to be measured in terms of the proportion of students to classes and the number of students who have attended classes compared to the population of this age group.
The document should answer the following set of basic questions:
Development Support Communication
Development Support Communication is the planning and systematic use of communication forms to enhance and accomplish participation and dialogue, mobilization and information flow, training and expansion of services.
Some other organizations require strategies for gender equality, i.e., integration of gender concerns into general programs. These could be the advancement of women’s participation, the promotion of equality between men and women, or specific women’s projects.
Every project follows a strategy that was developed in accordance with the goal of the project. If a project wants to fight poverty or illiteracy, for example, it must have a clear strategy regarding how to address and improve the situation and define the beneficiaries and partners.
Direct support is immediate aid that goes from the donors to a target group, be it a specific NGO, a group of NGOs, a university, or any other defined group of people. Institutional development goes to an organization that does capacity-building through training measures, skills enhancement, etc., and thus has a more sustainable output. A project can combine both elements, but it is important to distinguish between them
An institutional framework is an organizational set-up that defines clear structures, responsibilities and roles. It applies to ministries or other governmental institutions, as well as to trade unions, cooperatives, grass-roots associations, private sector enterprises, NGOs, etc.
What to DO:
Choice of intervention
FOR WHOM AND
WITH WHOM: Intended beneficiaries (IBs)
Direct recipients (DRs)
Another issue to be clarified concerns the target groups. There are indirect beneficiaries and direct recipients and they must be precisely identified and characterized, for example, by age, gender, geographical area, etc.
Linkages between Key Design Elements (I)
The linkages between the key design elements, the development objectives, output, activities, and inputs should be under the full control of the project management.
Presentation of Main Components
Indicators of Achievement do the following:
Add precision to the formulation of the immediate objectives
Provide verifiable evidence to assess the progress made towards the achievement of the immediate objective(s)
Should be stated in quantifiable or measurable terms
In Institutional Development projects:
Describe what the institution will be capable of doing
In Direct Support projects:
Explain to what extent the target group will be better off.
Objectives vs. Indicators
The Center for Cooperative Development Training (CCDT) will be capable of designing and executing participative and job-oriented training and consultancy programs for all cooperative target groups, including rural women, at central and local levels.
1. Job-oriented training curricula/manuals produced under the project are used in all cooperative training programs of the CCDT at the central and local levels.
2. An increased number of CCDT training activities are conducted with the support of the on-the-job training schemes.
3. The percentage of time spent on participative training methods has increased from 25% in 1990 to about 50% in 1993.
Assumptions do the following:
Refer to external factors affecting the program/project implementation and performance
Should be stated in precise terms and as positive conditions
Should have a high likelihood of materializing
Monitoring, Evaluation And Reporting
It is necessary to have monitoring and evaluation as part of the planning process in order to follow up on projects and expenditure and, in the end, provide evaluation reports on inputs and outputs and the overall performance of an organization. Reporting and follow-up mechanisms and procedures are essential to documenting and acting upon management decisions.
When carrying out projects, whether on democracy, advocacy, model parliament, electricity, water, etc., one wants to know whether they are proving successful or not. Improvements may be noticed, but the changes that take place might have occurred anyway and not as a result of the project. An industrial company, for example, wanted to advance the motivation of the workers to increase their productivity and took measures to improve the workers’ environment, e.g., by enlarging their offices, installing music and providing other facilities. When production went up, the company wanted to be sure that this was a result of their measures, so all the improvements were slowly taken away, and the production still went up. Thus, the actual reason was the attentiveness of the administration.
Monitoring and evaluation can also be done at the regional level in terms of geographic regions, population, or administrative districts. Doing this will provide important information on each locality in a country or and on a larger scale, e.g., the Middle East. On an organizational basis, one talks about micro level evaluation whereas a ministry on the national level undergoes macro monitoring and evaluation. If implemented on a regional level, the region would be macro and the different local communities micro.
The aims of both monitoring and evaluation are to improve the overall management of programs/projects and to enhance their achievements by providing information and feedback on the performance and implementation of the programs/projects to all parties concerned.
Therefore every project document should include monitoring and evaluation plans, which answer the following questions:
When will workplans and progress reports be prepared?
When, how, and by whom will the program/project be monitored and evaluated? Plans should provide details concerning the preparation of work plans, progress review and self-evaluation reports, as well as the organization’s independent evaluations, as appropriate.
Monitoring can be defined as the continuous or periodic review of program/ project implementation by management to assess delivery, identify difficulties, ascertain problem areas, and recommend remedial action(s). The purpose of monitoring is to ensure there is efficient and effective program/ project implementation. It provides timely information on the work planned and already done to all the parties concerned. Monitoring is thus primarily concerned with the delivery process, ensuring that inputs, through activities, are transformed into outputs, and analyzing their quantity and quality.
Work plan, progress review and self-evaluation reports are management tools, which guide and document the work of those involved in program/project implementation. While it is the project management that drafts and submits these reports, both their preparation and the follow-up actions require dialogue and consultation with all the parties concerned.
The purpose of the work plan is to guide the program/project implementation (indicating what will be done), facilitate accountability, and provide a basis for progress reviews and self-evaluation. It usually takes the form of a summary information sheet or timetable, and should contain the following:
Priority areas and objective(s)
Outputs/activities to achieve objective(s)
The planned starting and completion dates for each activity
Names of those responsible for delivery (persons/organizations)
The progress review periodically assesses the implementation of the work plan based on the information that has already been collected on the work actually carried out. The progress review is a key tool for examining:
The quality, quantity, and timeliness of outputs produced and activities carried out according to the work plan
The use of resources (inputs)
The management problems or constraints and remedial actions
The validity of assumptions and the existence of any foreseen events affecting implementation
The changes that have taken place and the reasons for them
The adjustments in the work plan and any follow-up actions required.
One of the main outcomes of monitoring may be the adjustment to new needs and conditions, which could not have been foreseen at the design stage, including the definition and adoption of mechanisms for updating the work plan. Any adjustments should be made with the involvement of the actors concerned within and outside the constituents, target groups, counterpart institutions and other cooperating agents.
Evaluation is an essential function that takes place at one point in time and feeds back into current program/project execution and future program/project planning and formulation. Evaluation assesses the progress made towards the achievement of objectives and the impact or effects of programs/ projects. Evaluation is a key tool for:
Enhancing the implementation of ongoing programs/projects
Improving the preparation of new programs/projects
Providing inputs into broader programs and thematic evaluations
The evaluation team has to review all details of the project, including project-related documents, and examine the sources of information. This includes a review of all project files, field trips and site visits. The evaluation itself must be documented in a report that contains information and details on the implementation arrangements, the composition (members) and duration of the evaluation mission, the anticipated costs, and the approach to the evaluation report.
The members of the evaluation mission have to be aware of the possible risks and constraints that may affect the path of their work, such as holidays, or in the Palestinian case, closures, etc. Then the evaluation tasks pertaining to the project implementation results must be listed, i.e., an assessment of the achieved results, the performance, efficiency. etc., and how the result of the evaluation will affect the remainder of the project.
Evaluation is concerned with one or more of the following aspects of program/project performance:
The project impact to be measured through the evaluation are the results achieved compared to the pre-project situation, such as health improvement, an increase in the production level, etc. The evaluation report must state whether the project has achieved its objectives, reached the targeted beneficiaries, and kept within its time limits, and if not, give reasons. It should also be clear regarding the period on which the evaluation focused since a project’s impact may not occur immediately but only after a delay of a year or two. Finally, the ‘critical issues’, i.e., any special features regarding the sustainability of the project, should be listed.
Finally, the evaluation mission should be requested to state its findings, identify the needs to improve utilization, assist efficiency, effectiveness and impact, and list recommendations, taking into consideration the capacity and possibilities available (time, funds, etc.). Based on the recommendations, which should be studied and, if suitable, applied, it can be assessed whether or not it is worthwhile to continue or expand a particular project. Correspondingly, a project can function as a model and be applied to other areas or fields.
Types of Evaluation
There are four criteria for categorizing evaluation: timing, responsibility, coverage and methodology.
Self-evaluation should involve those directly responsible for the program/ project implementation. It identifies to what extent the program/project has achieved or is likely to achieve its stated objectives, and should be followed by adequate actions that result in improved implementation of ongoing activities and better planning of future activities.
Self-evaluation is a useful management tool because it allows for the comprehensive coverage of all activities, facilitates immediate feedback by those directly concerned, passes on the technical knowledge and experience of those responsible for the implementation, and provides analytical input to independent evaluations.
Self-evaluation should be based on the statement of objective(s), work plans, and the results of periodic progress reviews, and focus on the assessment of the following aspects of the program/project:
Progress made towards the achievements of the immediate objective(s) (i.e., effectiveness)
Usefulness of results in meeting the needs of the target groups (relevance)
Whether the results obtained justify the costs incurred, and whether there are alternative ways or modalities of implementation (efficiency)
Durability or results after the withdrawal of external funds (sustainability)
Constraints or problems faced and remedial action taken or planned
Lessons learned for improving future programming
Self-evaluations may be complemented by independent evaluations, which involve the participation of persons who are not directly responsible for program/project implementation. The actual degree of ‘independence’, however, is determined by the composition of the evaluation team. Moreover, the question of who nominates the members of the team is crucial.
Independent or external evaluation provides objectivity in the assessment and functions as a mirror for the examined institution. An independent evaluation requires all parties concerned to agree on the terms of reference (TOR), including the following:
The specific purpose of a particular evaluation
The specific issues to be addressed
The approach and methodology to be used, and
The need to overcome constrains and respond to opportunities in a positive and constructive way
Preparation of the terms of reference for the evaluation mission
The monitoring group or evaluation group – be it a local or international consultancy firm, an office or a group of individuals – must know the terms of reference. These should outline the general evaluation framework, as well as the project status and issues such as the purpose, methodology and costs of the evaluation. Some organizations (e.g., the United Nations Capital Development Fund - UNCDF) demand certain guidelines for the preparation of the terms of reference for an evaluation mission. These may include the name of the country, project number, sponsors, total project cost, financing, actual disbursements.
The TOR are the conditions that one must abide by and should provide guidance to assess the program/project in terms of the following:
Concept and design
Special institutional concerns
Organizational matters to be addressed in TORs are:
Composition of the mission
Timetable and itnerary
Source of information
Consultations and contacts
Final report (preparation, review and dissemination)
A lesson learned can be defined as a generalization based on an experience (e.g., projects, policies or programs) that was evaluated. A distinction can be made between:
normative lessons, which point out what should be done, or what should be avoided, to ensure success and
causal lessons, which correspond to statements that reveal the likely outcomes (positive or negative) of different processes.
Also, the following distinction should be made between ‘lessons learned’ and ‘findings, conclusions, and recommendations’:
A finding is a ‘factual statement’ (such as the repayment rate was 90 percent)
A conclusion is a ‘synthesis’ of ‘factual statements’ corresponding to a ‘specific circumstance’ (policy ‘X’ failed to achieve its objective)
a recommendation is a ‘prescription’ on what should be done under specific circumstances, for example: in order to increase the repayment rate in a certain credit project incentives should be introduced
A lesson learned is a generalization that does not refer to a specific circumstance but to a ‘type’ of situation.
The lessons drawn from evaluation should highlight the strengths and weaknesses in the program/project preparation, design and implementation that affected performance and impact. This information should be relayed to program/project managers so that the knowledge can be used to improve the implementation of ongoing activities and the planning of future activities and, ultimately, the achievement of short- and long-term objectives, Furthermore, such information can be used as the basis for making policy recommendations in related fields.
16. Implementation Skills
Dr. Ishaq Al-Qutub
Before starting with the implementation of a project, an effort should be made to fully understand the goals and translate them into a strategy. A specific mechanism of actions and operations should be determined during the preparation of the strategy and a plan should be formulated in order to transform the goals into projects and activities.
In implementing a plan, one must always take into account the fact that people are human, which means there will always be a certain margin of error because of certain factors, such as closure, the economic situation, etc., all of which can lead to changes in the original plan.
One must always be fully aware of one’s responsibilities and limitations as a manager and should ask the question, "Do I have responsibility for decision-making, or shall I simply follow the orders of others?" Answering this question leads to less misunderstanding and complications later on.
The second step is to review the goals of the project and translate them into practical plans and strategies. The plan should be reviewed in order to discover the extent to which the project plan or the current plan conforms to the goals.
Studies related to the plan, which should be practical and feasible, should be analyzed. Careful attention should be paid to the following aspects of the planning process:
Time: Every project has a timetable: one, two, three, four or five years, etc.
Human resources: One person alone cannot do everything, and for a project to be a success, it requires a team consisting of specialized people with the desire and ability to implement the project.
Creating systems: Here, a manager must select the staff who will take part in implementing the project. In this context, a system can be defined as a set of rules that determines relationships and the practical steps for implementation and evaluation. The following systems can be differentiated:
Financial system: Everything related to finances, capital expenses, current expenses, etc. should be included. The information should be clear and practical in order to ensure that the goals are achieved without there being any major financial problems.
Administrative system: There is a need to have a division of labor policy to ensure that the right man or woman is in exactly the right place. Moreover, there should be a specific line of communication and a system for compensation, vacations, indemnities, etc, so that the employees feel secure. Organizations should be goal-oriented, and there should be incentives in order to guarantee that the employees are loyal, devoted and effective. Moreover, the administrative system must be transparent, and staff should be held responsible and accountable. The administrative system must spell out all aspects of the interrelationships on the horizontal and/or vertical levels.
Information system: Quite often, managers decide at the beginning of a project that they want to develop an information system, a database, allowing them to have easy access to information on their employees, equipment, materials, and financial situation. What is important is not so much the material that is collected, but how it is used.
Network system: Organizations, whether NGOs or public institutions, do not work in isolation from other institutions. Society is built on the interaction of different organizations. Each organization must determine its strategy and decide upon levels of coordination with other organizations.
Legal system: A legal system is important for any organization. The legal system could be either a separate system inside the organization or a sub-system. Everything is related to provisions that explain and determine the relationships between employees and the directors, as well as relationships with the beneficiaries of the services.
Monitoring system: The monitoring system necessitates reporting on three things: finances, activities and time (i.e., is the plan being implemented according to the timeframe?).
The most important thing, however, is the human element. Every organization, ministry or company in the public sector should develop its own culture in order to provide the basis for a positive relationship within its structure and/or with other systems.
The Institutional Framework
The institutional framework of an organization is made up of the following:
Different by-laws (laws, legislation, decrees, ordinances) related to the following issues:
Empowerment of employees
Personnel: the organization’s policy concerning this issue should be clear, and each employee should know his rights and duties
Finances: everything related to income and expenditure.
The work environment: seating, lighting, cleanliness, breaks, meals, physical environment, etc., should all be of a good standard.
The benefits package: in line with the organization’s policy to build up the employees’ capacity and increase their loyalty, performance and productivity, certain benefits should exist, such as maternity leave, vacations, training, etc.
Rewards and punishments: This is very important and there should be provisions for this item.
Financial and Management issues
Other issues to be considered include:
The budget: It is very important for the manager to determine the budget in order to be able to make plans. The manager should take into consideration the cost-effectiveness of each of the planned activities. The allocations in the budget should be transparent. Moreover, auditing is an important element that should be an integral component in every organization’s fiscal policies.
The management of funds: How should the money be utilized?
The management of manpower: Employees and jobs should be classified and the need for training and expansion studied.
Activities: There should be a schedule of activity for each employee. Monitoring is important in order to avoid conflicts and ensure the full utilization of available resources.
General management: The characteristics of a successful manager are decentralization, effectiveness, productivity, achievement and information sharing.
17. Statistics for the Baseline Survey – An Introduction
Dr. Faisal Awartani
Descriptive and Inferential Statistics
In approaching towards the use of scientific methods, human society moved through a developing stage in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries from an early phase of metaphysical thinking to a way of thinking that used data to support certain hypotheses or ideas. Since the world embarked upon such empirical studies and statistical analysis, numerous methods of data collection, processing and analysis have evolved. Two basic types of statistics can be distinguished: descriptive statistics and inferential statistics.
Inferential statistics are about how one uses data to make an inference, while descriptive statistics - used more commonly - basically focus on summarizing information in an efficient manner. In summarizing data, statisticians differentiate between two types: graphical, i.e., by means of diagrams, and numerical summaries, i.e., by means of numbers.
Types of Data and Data Summaries
The process of summarizing data depends on the different types of data. Once the information needed is collected the obtained data must be considered according to its character, whereby the following three types are differentiated:
Nominal scale data is data that does not have a numerical element. It is either-or information that only classifies, for example, sex: either male or female. Other examples are religion, marital status, place of residence, etc.
Ordinal data also classifies but gives an order in addition. For example, grades in a course are A, B, C and D, and students can be ranked according to their grades. Ordinal data provides information that someone‘s mark is higher than that of another person, but without knowing the exact numbers. It allows for ranking or putting in order but does not specify the difference. Examples are size of clothes (large, medium, small), or questionnaires that ask for evaluating the management, for example, along a given scale of very good – good – medium – bad – very bad.
Continuous or ratio scale data classifies, puts in order and provides units of distance, so that the difference between one value and another is known. Examples are age, income, height, grades, or time spent in a certain job. For example, if someone’s mark in a course is 75 and someone else’s is 80, one knows the difference is five points, while in ordinal data one would only know that A is more than B. Continuous data gives more details and measures exact differences. In questionnaires and data collection, however, there is often a tendency to put continuous data into ranges. For example, instead of asking people about their exact age or income, one might ask them to specify the applicable range; for age there may be categories such as 30-35, 35-40, 40-45; for income $500-$1,000, $1,000-$1,500, and so on. This is done in order to obtain data where people might be reluctant to give exact information. However, once data is categorized in such a manner, information is lost. Wherever possible, continuous scale data should be collected, so that it can later be re-coded, programmed, put in categories and so on. Continuous scale data can be transformed into nominal or ordinal data, but once continuous variables are collected as ordinal data, it cannot be transformed back into continuous data.
Data is also differentiated by its quantitative and qualitative character. Quantitative data means numerical types of data, such as ages, income, heights, population density - anything that can be measured on a connected scale. Qualitative data is any kind of data that pertains to a person, a group, a country, or an institution – anything that is not numerical. Qualitative does not mean good or bad, but simply non-numerical data. For example, the answer to the question of whether someone supports the peace process or not is yes or no. This type of information is qualitative. Asking about a particular institution - whether it is an NGO, government, or private - is also qualitative, i.e., not numerical. Both qualitative and quantitative data can often be combined when collecting information. For example, regarding the level of education the question on the highest science degree is ordinal and qualitative, but asking about the number of years spent studying is continuous scale data and quantitative. In other words the difference between quantitative data and qualitative data is whether the corresponding questions are answered numerically versus non-numerically.
Graphical summaries of nominal and ordinal data are usually done in the form of tables, pie, bar and line charts. For example, when conducting questionnaires about the distribution of the population in Palestine, there are three answers: a) city, b) camp, or c) village. To summarize this nominal data, the results can be put in a table as follows:
However, people principally prefer charts and pies to tables. In a pie chart the output can be shown in different colors:
A bar chart would look like this:
The pie and bar charts graphically illustrate the size of each variable in addition to indicating the percentage.
A line chart would look like this:
The items of the x-axis (place of residence) are nominal data and can be switched easily because there is no sense of order; it would only change the appearance of the line or bars. In the given example a line chart would be somewhat misleading because lines are normally used to show a trend, illustrated by the decline or rise of the line. In cases of nominal data, which only give the total percentage of an item without saying whether it is increasing or decreasing, line graphs are not suitable; rather, pie or bar charts should be used.
A graphical summary of continuous scale data needs to be based on a summary in table format, showing the category by intervals and the percentage for each interval, adding up to 100 percent. Many software programs, such as EXCEL, do the calculation automatically and often offer a graph straight away without seeing the table. The data itself can be illustrated in charts just like the above example.
25 - 29
30 - 34
35 - 39
40 - 44
45 - 49
One will notice from the table that there is a sense of order, from a smallest number to a largest. The table gives the distribution of the data, i.e., the areas of concentration of the data. The identification of concentrations can be very important when it comes to decision-making. For example, knowing about the age concentration of a population can be important in planning for certain target groups.
Another way of summarizing continuous scale data is the ‘cumulative percentage histogram’. This very important method is often found in reports or statistical books; it shows tables, categories with percentages, and cumulative percentages, which is the accumulation of percentages by categories. For this kind of graph a line chart should be used - the computer will do this, but one still has to understand what it means in order to be able to interpret the output. The final result is the most important thing.
25 - 29
30 - 34
35 - 39
40 - 44
45 - 49
If one wants to know the percentage of people aged 30-39, one could add the 25 percent (category 30-34) and 15 percent (category 35-39) and get the result of 40 percent. Another way of doing it is to look at the cumulative percentage for 39 percent (20 percent + 25 percent + 15 percent), which is 60 percent, and then subtract 20 percent (category 25-29); the result is also 40 percent. For the age group 30-44, the cumulative 70 percent are taken, subtracted by 20 percent (25-29) which makes – direct and quickly - 50 percent.
If there is a large number of categories, and one wants to know the percentage between two categories, the two numbers are subtracted to obtain the percentage wanted. This is important, for example, in the Central Bureau for Statistics, when working on the age distribution of the Palestinian population. All people are put down according to their age starting with one year, two years, three and so on, until the highest age. This adds up to three, four pages of percentages. If someone then wants to look at the percentage of those between 18 and 50, meaning he would have to add all the percentages of the ages between 18 and 50, it would be a major problem. However, if the cumulative percentages are listed, one only needs to look at the percentage for 50 years and subtract from it the percentage for 18 years. In other words, the cumulative helps extract information quickly, and makes calculations easier.
The percentile is important for someone who wants to look at the number under a particular percentage. Supposing one wants 70 percentile of the data, i.e., the age that 70 percent of the people are under. This is calculated by looking at where 70 cumulative percent are on the table. Supposing, this is the case at the age of 44, then 44 constitutes the 70th percentile of the data. P70 or P10 means the age that has underneath it 70 percent or 10 percent of the people respectively.
Working out the percentile is also an important process when marking exams or scoring of some sort. For example, there is a pupil whose mark in an exam was 75. In order to judge this score and know if it is a good mark or not regarding the students as a whole, one will look at the percentiles. If P90 was 70 in this exam, this means that 90 percent of the students scored 70 or less than 70. Thus, someone with a mark of 75 was among the top ten percent of the pupils, which means that this score is an excellent score. The process of summarizing data according to percentiles shows the distribution of the data and allows one to make a judgement.
Prices are also a good example. How can one know if a particular trader is expensive or cheap with regard to a particular commodity? Supposing the information about one kilo of apples is that P90 is NIS 6. That is to say 90 percent of traders sell a kilo of apples for NIS6 or less. A trader who sells a kilo for NIS 6.5 is then among the top 10 percent, i.e., expensive. Without percentile style data judgement cannot be made.
Another example that illustrates the importance of percentiles is warranties. For example, companies that produce car batteries usually give a warranty (whereby 18 months is the norm). The producing company has to make a decision with regard to the extent of the warranty, whereby the length of the warranty is connected to a number of factors, such as the competition in the market and the return rate. There should always be a life-time analysis on the batteries, for example, to find out what is the age under which five percent will have died, and the age by which 50 percent will have died, etc. Before giving a warranty, companies often do experiments using cumulative percentages, in order to get data - such as P50 = five years, P10 = two years, and P5 = one and a half years – on which they base their decision-making. If they know, for example, that five percent of the batteries will die before one and a half years, and ten percent will die before two years, and then fix the warranty at two years, they expect that ten percent of the batteries will be returned. If they put one and a half years on the warranty, they will expect five percent to be returned. So the decision will be about what percent of the production should be taken back. It is a simple calculation about profit and loss. With a two-year warranty and a return rate of ten percent the company might fail, for example. A 5-year warranty with an expected return of 50 percent is already ludicrously dangerous. Thus, experimental studies are carried out from which one can ascertain with high confidence what the rate of return should be. A company might decide on a one and a half-year warranty, based on a fixed percentile (return of five percent of the batteries) because of competition. This is the concept of the percentile: looking at data and analyzing it.
The percentile is also important with regard to insurance companies. There is an entire field specific to insurance called actuarial statistics, which studies how to make decisions for insurance companies so that they maximize their profit.
When summarizing continuous scale data numerically there are two basic types of numerical summaries:
Measures of central tendency, and
Measures of variation.
The first type shows where the center of the data is, and the second type shows that there has been a spread, a variation in the data. Measures of central tendency look at the average or the mean of the data. For example, the mean consumption of a Palestinian family is about JD 655 per month (as opposed to JD 890 in Jerusalem).
When looking at such socioeconomic data it is important to bear in mind the difference between consumption and expenditure. Consumption calculates everything one consumes; it is not the income. The average monthly Palestinian household expenditure comes out at JD 604.
The average is the sum of all the total expenditure for every family that is in a sample, divided by the total number of people. The result is the center of the data. The median reflects the middle of the data: it is the point underneath and above which each 50 percent of the sample is located. In other words it is P50, the 50th percentile. The median is a better summary for consumption data than the mean. The mean is generally not used when summarizing information about wages, for example, because it is affected by ‘outlayers’: if there is a small part of the population that spends a lot of money, this affects the mean. Again it depends on the data. If it is a symmetric kind of data and its shape is balanced, the mean is good. But if the data is skewed either to the right or the left, or if there is a small part of the data, which is far right or left, the mean is misleading. The mean does not reflect the middle of the data.
If looking at the consumption data, one would expect the median to smaller than the mean, because the data for consumption is affected by the few who have a high income and high consumption. The median in the above example will come out at approximately JD400. When summarizing continuous scale data it is always good to look at both the mean and the median. A big difference might result from a data entry error (which needs to be corrected) or from the fact that there are natural ‘outlayers’ in the data. ‘Outlayers’ have to be examined closely; there are a number of reasons for ‘outlayers’ in collecting information. The majorment error, for example, appears when one takes information from particular people who give incorrect numbers. Data entry errors often occur when transferring information from a questionnaire to the computer and need to be checked and corrected. Measurement errors cannot be dealt with except by deleting the affected points because otherwise they may well ruin the entire analysis.
Another example are statistics that show the average working hours in the week, the average of working days in the month, the average daily wage, etc. If one wants to make a decision as to where to work and invest his time, he could look at the various types of work and the differences by sector. For Palestinian workers in Israel, for example, the statistics show that the average daily wage is highest in building and construction (NIS 84). A look at the numbers for the sector agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishing shows that the median is less than the mean, i.e., the data is skewed, which means that there is a significant amount of people whose wage is well below the mean.
Statistics are also used to monitor certain processes, whether they arerelated to the whole society or to particular concerns. Understanding the collected data means understanding the underlying problems and the changes and improvements that have occurred. Data has to be looked at very carefully and critically, especially when it is used for decision-making. Findings should always be double-checked in order to discover causes as well as for data entry errors. One has to isolate the other factors and then come to a conclusion about the shift that occurred.
It is very important to learn how to do the design and storage of data and how to present the results so that it is understandable. Everything is done from a certain baseline against which it is then measured again and again to monitor progress. The baseline preparation goes along with certain definitions and design elements that will stay throughout the whole process. Changing these definitions or the design would lead to problems, especially with statistical indicators. It might then happen that someone looks at the problem of unemployment in a particular period and finds 19 percent, someone else finds 40 percent, a third one 30 percent, and so on. In examining an issue, the same definitions and methodologies should be used; otherwise it means talking about different things.
Variations – Standard Deviation and Interquartile Range
Among the important variations that a computer calculates (e.g., EXCEL or SPSS) when using continuous scale data is the standard deviation and the interquartile range.
The standard deviation shows the amount of variation in the data set, i.e., the spread of the data. For example, there are two data sets - one showing the average of students in a particular subject, and the other the average of students in another subject – with the average of both subjects being 75. This does not provide any information on the differences between the two sets, i.e., the variables. The picture that emerges by means of the average is misleading because it is the same despite the fact that two data sets are used with different variables. Thus, a new measure must be defined, which is the standard deviation. The average for data set number one, for example, results from the individual marks 60, 65, 75, 85, 90, the average of which is 75. Data set number two consists of the marks 70, 72, 75, 78, 80, which also averages 75. This shows that the average of summarized data does not give an adequate picture. Looking at the difference between the two data sets shows that the numbers data set one has more spread than data set two. This spread reflects the standard deviation. The standard deviation for the first set will be greater than the one for the second set, which is shown on the x-bar: S1 = 10 and S2 = 5.
In most data sets two standard deviations on either side of the mean are taken. Suppose the average mark is 75 (x-bar = 75) and the standard deviation is 5 (S1 = 5). One has to understand that 95 percent of the data falls within two standard deviations of either side of the mean; thus, one knows straight away that 95 percent of the students got marks between 65 and 85: two standard deviations of five added together comes to ten; ten taken from 75, and ten added to 75. Another example: if a boy tells his father that he got 85 in the exam, what does this mean? That the boy got a mark in the top 2.5 percent, because it is known that 95 percent of the pupils got marks in the interval between 65 and 85. Thus, 2.5 percent of the pupils got marks below 65, and 2.5 percent got marks above 85. In other words, those who got 85 are in the top 2.5 percent.
This subject of standard deviation and normalization is very important; it is used, for example, when talking about standard weights for babies, i.e., to judge whether babies are underweight or overweight. The doctor has a x-bar chart for one-year old babies, for example, that shows the averages and two standard deviations. Above the two standard deviations means overweight, beyond means underweight. In Palestine, there is still a problem because only US or European charts are used to determine child weights and according to these, some 80 percent of Palestinian babies are underweight. It would be easy to develop a Palestinian chart, knowing the average weight for a Palestinian one-year old, two-year old, etc., and have the standard deviations.
Another example is the statistics for consumer prices prepared by the Central Bureau of Statistics. They provide the averages for the prices, but still not the standard deviation. Looking only at the averages, for example, the average price for a kilo of rice, does not allow one to make a judgement. There are always people who sell above or below the average, but without the two standard deviations one cannot say whether a shopkeeper is cheating or not.
In summary, there are nominal, ordinal and continuous types of data; nominal and ordinal data are summarized by means of percentages and continuous data by means and standard deviations.
The interquartile is another major of variation that the computer can calculate. As mentioned above, there are two types of majors of central tendency: the mean and the median. One is affected by the ‘outlayers’, the other is not. It is the same with the majors of variation. There are two methods: standard deviation, which is affected by the ‘outlayers’ and the interquartile range, which is not. A simple definition of the interquartile range is: it is the 75th percentile minus the 25th percentile. It is a main standard variation that tells how much the data spreads.
Cross tabulation is used in questionnaires, surveys and monitoring processes that contain many statistical details. In public opinion polls, for example, people are asked a wide range of questions on economic, political, and social issues, and - as in the case of a Nablus-based research center that conducts polls among Palestinians – on specific topics such as the peace process. The answer to these questions are used to evaluate the Legislative Council, the extent to which people support the Oslo Accords, or to assess the performance of the PNA on the whole.
In order to learn about the perception and opinion of the public, the people are not only asked whether they support the peace process (on a nominal yes-or-no scale), but also about their demographic background. Support for the peace process or whether one prefers Israeli or Palestinian products are variables, measured as nominal scale values. In the data analysis one then has to define a so-called dependent variable as well as the independent variables. Subject matter variables are dependent; then they are checked against certain independent or background variables in order to see how they change at different levels. For example, if ‘support for the peace process’ is the dependent variable one might want to find out how the support is connected or changes according to demographic features (background variables). These independent variables could be sex (male or female), region (Gaza, West Bank), age, educational level, place of residence (camp, village, city), etc. In principle, it can be said that the variable ‘educational level’ makes a real difference while age does not usually have such a big impact.
Another good example in this context is the distribution of workers by place of work and educational level. The statistics show that six percent of those who have 13 years of education and more work inside Israel, along with 17 percent of those who have 10-12 years of education, and - the highest percentage of all - those who have 7-12 years of education. This indicates that the educational level is connected to employment in Israel: most Palestinian workers in Israel have middle or lower education. The dependent variable here is the place of work; the independent variable is the number of years of study.
In the survey itself one first has to take certain samples from areas in Gaza and the West Bank, then does the questionnaires and summarize the data. The first level of the summary looks at basic results, for example, to see the proportion of people who support the peace process versus the proportion of people who are against it. Then the percentages of responses by sex, age, educational level, etc. are looked at for each question to see how support of the peace process is affected by these independent variables. To do this, the method of cross tabulation is used, whereby there are different ways, the main ones being column percent, row percent, and total percent. The way of presentation is important; the Central Bureau of Statistics uses most of the time row percent or column percent.
For example, one poll shows that 60 percent of the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank support the peace process. If these 60 percent are crossed with the educational level, the support for the peace process drops. The higher the educational level, the more support for the peace process drops. This is a good indication of the fact that everyone thinks in his/her own environment. Every human being lives in a particular circle, sees only what is around him - which is not necessarily representative for the entire population - and does not see the whole picture. The broader picture only becomes clear when looking at statistics.
If one looks at geometric shapes from different angles he gets different pictures: if he looks straight at a cylinder, for example, he will see a rectangle; if he looks at from above, he will see a circle. It is the same with people looking at it situations and circumstances; they see them differently, according to their angles, whereby neither view is right or wrong. The problem in polls and questionnaires is that each person is questioned through his or her own demographic background, socioeconomic status, educational level, etc, which are all factors that put someone in a specific position, meaning that he will see something in a specific way.
Doing a survey means gathering opinions or collecting ideas. Two people who look at exactly the same thing might see something completely different because each one does his own filtering process. The mind of human beings filters information according to a person’s experience and his interaction with his environment. This filter decides which and how information is absorbed. Everyone thinks that his own opinion is the correct one and reflects the way everyone else thinks, but this is not the case. People have different pictures, perceptions and scenarios, i.e., very particular views. Thus, in order to collect information that in the end will display a comprehensive picture, a survey must be designed scientifically and take into account a representative sample from the society. Representative means that all sectors in society must be covered, i.e., the different age groups, the educated and uneducated, etc.
It is very important to prepare the field researchers, who will conduct the surveys properly and to train them how to pose a question in order to obtain the right answer. There is a difference between what people actually think and what they tend to answer because they often give the answers that they the interviewer wants to hear.
Presentation of Data
Once the data has been processed and computerized the next task is to look at the data and interpret it in terms of frequencies, cross tabulations, etc.
Support Peace Process
Oppose Peace Process
The above cross table shows 50 males that support the peace process, and 50 that oppose it while there are 70 females for and 30 against. The total number of interviewees was therefore 200, 100 men and 100 women. The table shows how many people support the peace process, how many are against it, and how men and women differ in their opinion on this subject.
The data can also be presented as row percent by dividing each cell by the total sum of the row. For male, this means 50 percent support and 50 percent are against the peace process (total = 100 percent), while among the females, 70 percent support and 30 percent are against it (total = 100 percent). The column percent works according to the same system. Whether one has the computer calculate the row percent or the column percent depends on what is more useful in a given context. Here, the row percent was used to see how the sex factor affects support or non-support for the peace process. The result is that among females support is higher than among males, which allows the analyst to conclude that the sex factor does affect the issue and there is a significant difference between the male and female opinion.
The total percent can be obtained by dividing each cell by the total, i.e., 200 in the example used here. This means 25 percent of males support the peace process, 25 percent are against it, and 35 percent females support the peace process while 15 percent do not. The total of all the entries is 100 percent. The total percent shows where the percentage of support is, amongst the males or females. The row percent indicates that among males, there is 50 percent support and among females 70 percent. The total percent indicates the chance - if picked randomly - of someone being male and supportive of the peace process is 25 percent. Equally, the chance that this person will be female and against the peace process is 15 percent. The wording is important here. The chance of someone in the male population being supportive of the peace process is 50 percent; the chance of someone from the female population is 70 percent.
In the above example the dependent variable is support or opposition to the peace process, and the independent is the male/female variable. The resulting data shows how the shift takes place according to the distribution at different levels of the independent variable. Reading a table is not enough; the findings should be analyzed to understand the factors that brought about the results. For example, the fact that women support the peace process more than men (which is a real example) should be explained as follows: women suffered a lot during the Intifada; their husbands and sons were in prison or had been killed, which made their life more difficult and now after the Intifada, they do not want to return to such times. The final step that should follow the analysis is drawing conclusions from the data that can be used for (future) decision-making.
Another example from the health sector will illustrate the above once more. The goal of the survey was to see the proportion of diabetics in Palestine. The dependent variable is thus the diabetic status (diabetic/non-diabetic), and the independent variable, the district (Ramallah, Hebron, Jerusalem).
Since the underlying question is whether the distribution of diabetics changes according to different districts, the row percent is used here. The column percent would state how diabetics versus non-diabetics is distributed in different areas but nothing about the proportion of diabetics in Hebron versus Jerusalem, for example. With row percent each area adds up to 100 percent, which makes the process of comparing easier. If, as a general rule, the dependent variable is along the top, and this is true for software, then one has to ask for row percent.
The conclusion from the above table is that the district has nothing to do with the prevalence of diabetic status. The highest prevalence, however, is in the Hebron district, so if there were a $100,000 budget to fight diabetes, Hebron would be a priority area. The question is how much of this amount would go to Hebron.
One way of looking at it is to take the percentage in Hebron, divide it by the total of the percentages from every district and multiply it by 100,000:
However, this kind of calculation does not take into consideration the population size. Thus, what should be done is to take 0.2 and multiply it by the population of Hebron in order to get the number of diabetics in Hebron; then to take 0.17 and multiply it by the population of Jerusalem to get the number of diabetics in Jerusalem, etc. Then all the numbers for diabetics in the different areas must be added to get the total number of diabetics. This total number of diabetics must then be divided by the number of diabetics in Hebron and multiplied by 100,000. Unless this method is used, an area with a large population will be underrepresented. The other method would be fine if the population size was the same for each district.
The same method is often being used in allocating project funds. There is a certain cycle that any project has to pass through, starting with a base line survey, which provides the necessary indicators. After these indicators have been explained, the process of intervention begins. A survey is always done for the present situation, followed by intervention in a particular way, by means of a project or program. After the intervention, there is monitoring and evaluation, then more intervention and so on. There are many statistical matters that one has to be careful about when looking at the data.
18. Surveys and Sampling
Dr. Faisal Awartani
If someone wanted to assess the effects of a program on children’s immunization or of a health education program (e.g., percentage of people having diabetes or cancer in Palestine), or study the relationship between the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) and the Palestinian people, what sort of process would he follow?
There are several tools to assess program impacts. Rapid surveys are used to assess whether a program is worth undertaking; it is taking a first glance at the situation, for example, asking how many people suffer from diabetes and whether it is useful to run an awareness campaign.
Another common tool is the household survey, which requires the following preparatory and processing steps:
Specification of the objectives
Decision on what indicators should be used
Development of an outline for the survey report (reporting scheme)
Design of the data collection instrument
Collection of data
Data entry and verification
Analysis and interpretation of the results
Development of an action plan
Designing a Questionnaire
A household survey consists of different variables on which the research is based (main research variables):
Research questions’ variables
The number of questions varies depending on the topic under investigation and the research team, but as a general rule it can be said that there should be no more than 40-45 questions. The quantity of collected information is not as important as the quality.
Typical background variables for a household survey are as follows:
Demographic characteristics such as sex, age, educational level
Place of residence
Regions (West Bank, Gaza)
Income and expenditure factor (gives an idea about the economic status)
Number of rooms in the house
Number of people living in the household
Whether the house is rented or not
Electrical appliances available (gives an idea about the wealth index)
Research questions are direct questions, such as: "How do you evaluate the performance of the PLC?" This is a monitoring type of question and the person usually chooses from among a set of possible answers, for example:
The five-point scale is quite common and considered one of the best scales for evaluating goods and services.
In order to study the prevalence of diabetes, the researcher will have to go to different households and ask the people if they have diabetes or not. It is very important to know the target group that is addressed (in this particular instance usually people over 30 and under 65), not least because the questionnaire will be designed accordingly.
The questions in the questionnaire must be numbered (preferably in a sequence from Q01 to Q40 for example), which is very important for the subsequent data entry, in which the various answers to each question are also numbered.
The questionnaires themselves must also be numbered so that they can be traced and referred to. This is particularly important in cases where problems in the data itself occur. Two kinds of errors are possible:
- measurement errors, which are rather difficult to correct, and
- data entry errors, which are easier to correct.
Another important number is that of the research team member who filled in a particular questionnaire, because knowing this helps those in charge to control the quality of the results obtained.
After the questionnaire is prepared and the questionnaire variables are defined, the survey team is ready to go to the field. But, before that the field researchers must be trained; this is very important. For example, if a survey on the health services or other kinds of services is conducted, it is important that the field researchers interpret the questions in the same manner. Even when the questions are straightforward, the field researchers might interpret them differently, so it is important that they understand the questions well and that they ask questions about the things that they do not understand. It is therefore very important to clarify to the field researchers the meaning of each of the questions.
Once the field researchers have been trained and prepared, they will go into the field to do a pilot study, which has the following aim:
To identify whether there are any problems in the questionnaires
To adjust the instruments, based on the result of the pilot study, for the actual research project.
Developed countries conduct a comprehensive population census every eight to ten years; other, poorer countries conduct one less frequently due to the high costs this involves. The last census carried out by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) aimed at gathering information on the socioeconomic structure in Palestine. Its cost amounted to some $8.5 million. After a census is concluded, the problem is the utilization of the collected information. The Palestinian census was a very difficult process because of the lack of cooperation and coordination among those involved, for example between the PCBS and the ministries. So the question was whether the money spent on the census was wasted or spent effectively.
Household surveys require a multistage sampling procedure consisting of the following different stages:
Selecting one or more population location(s)
Selecting one or more cluster(s) from the population location(s)
Selecting one or more household(s) from the cluster(s)
Selecting the respondent(s) within the household(s) (usually from among the members aged 18 and over)
The accuracy of a survey (e.g., to evaluate the health services) is determined by the margin of error, a statistical mean that is usually calculated by the computer. For a given population, the following two parameters are of relevance:
It can be said that a survey of a sample of 1,000 people would be representative for a population of two million with a margin of error of more or less 3 percent. With such a margin of error results are considered valid. The small sample of 1,000 people must have been selected by a multistage sampling using a cluster sample in order to be representative. One could, for example, choose 100 people from ten different clusters (= 1,000 people). It has become a standard to select 100 clusters and to choose 15 people from each in order to ensure that the survey results have a margin error of more or less 3 percent.
The sample size of a cluster has nothing to do with the population size. The inter-class population helps in measuring the homogeneity among the different clusters. For the selection of population locations the probability proportional to size sampling (PPS) is used. The following table will illustrate this, supposing that there are six towns (T1, T2, …., T6),of which three shall be chosen:
Size of population
The process of selecting a sample from among a given total (here the towns) is as follows:
First, the cumulative sum must be calculated.
Then – in order to select a sample - the size of the population in each town must be considered, as well as the following:
The increment size: in total, there are 13,500 people and three locations shall be chosen, i.e., 13,500 divided by three = 4,500.
Then a random number is chosen either by the computer or by using a random number generator to select any number between zero and 4,500. For example, if the resulting number is 1,700, then one looks in the cumulative sum for a figure close to 1,700, i.e., 2,500, which corresponds to T2, so T2 is chosen.
Then 1,700 is added to 4,500 = 6,200, which is close to 7,000, so T4 is chosen.
Then 6,200 is added to 4,500 = 10,700, which is close to 13,500, so T6 is chosen.
Thus, the locations T2, T4 and T6 are selected.
This method of sampling helps in obtaining a self-rating sample, i.e., the estimates are unbiased.
Other types of sampling include:
Random sampling: There is a set of records from which a random sample is to be chosen. For example, if there is a set of 300 records in a clinic and 100 samples should be choosen (n = 100), the interval for the selection is calculated at 300 divided by 100 = 3, which means that from every three records one is selected.
Worksheet Series Strategic Planning
Suggested Outline for Evaluation Reports
Suggested Outline for the Terms of Reference (TOR)
for an Evaluation Mission
UNDP Project Formulation Framework (PFF)
Summary Project Outline (SPROUT)
Selected PASSIA Internet Resources