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The neutrality and formality of conflict: strategies, transformation and sights of the logical framework in Sarvodaya

Fernando, Renuka (2015) The neutrality and formality of conflict: strategies, transformation and sights of the logical framework in Sarvodaya. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis investigates the neutrality and formality of accounting as a form of intervention in situations of conflict faced by Nongovernmental Organisations (NGOs). In this thesis, neutrality and formality of accounting are limited to evaluation devices and formats used by donors to assess NGOs, specifically the Logical Framework (LF). Technical attributes and views were desirable for making sense of evaluator experiences in development projects in the 1960s. Responding to this, contractors under the United States International Development Agency (USAID) combined scientific and management approaches and created the LF (Chapter 2). Many development agencies since then have required NGOs to use an LF within project proposals and as a basis to monitor and evaluate project performance. At the same time, the neutrality and formality of the LF have been widely criticised in development circles. This thesis found, however, that in situations where conflict is prevalent, neutrality and formality play a role in shaping, informing and structuring conflict. To understand ways in which conflict and technicality intersect, this thesis is based on a case study of a grassroots NGO in Sri Lanka, Sarvodaya. This thesis identifies and discusses conflict between donors and the NGO, conflict as part of society and conflict between actors within an NGO project. Contrary to previous literature in accounting, neutrality and formality in Sarvodaya were found to be a malleable resource for mobilisation in conflict situations. Neutrality and formality of evaluation devices, mainly the LF, were used in Sarvodaya as a way to strategize around sources of conflict between external donors and internal NGO accounts in the late 1980s (Chapter 4). Later, after the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war, the LF was used to work on projects focused on reconciliation and reconstruction. Neutrality and formality of the LF helped to transform social conflicts into manageable projects in Sarvodaya (Chapter 5). Lastly, this thesis proposes a framing of ‘sights’ – plain sight, oversight and foresight - to explore the ways in which neutrality and formality provide a visual methodology for staff to make sense of their daily work, accountability and visions of the future (Chapter 6).

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2015 Renuka Cheryl Fernando
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HG Finance
Sets: Departments > Accounting
Supervisor: Power, Michael and Hall, Matthew

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