Participatory management in development organizations


We would like to thank the author, Mi. Mosaddek Hassain,  for the following contribution. The views of other readers are welcomed.


Characteristics of development orga­nizations ....

Most workers in development organizations are volunteers, either paid or unpaid although there is nearly always a small core of professionals which provides management services. In almost every case policy is decided by a managing committee or board or lay members of an organization, and implemented by a combination of board members and professionals. The proportion of executive responsibility taken by each level varies from one organization to another, but full-time/regular professional staff often find themselves in the ironic situation of being more efficient and* having more knowledge and expertise in vari­ous matters than the committee which makes policy and operational proce­dures.

Great discontent and tension can occur if committee members see pro­fessional staff as taking too much responsibility in leading rather than delivering support and services, and thereby altering the control of the organization. Even if responsibilities are clearly defined, this hazardous situation is still a common dilemma and can only be solved by ensuring that training is available to both pro­fessional and lay committee members. This is particularly important when there is a high rate of turnover. It is important as well that expectations placed on professional work­ers/managers and volunteer lead­ers/committee members are not too high, and that they are not left isolated and unorganized.

Most development organizations recognize these needs and situations

and cater to them particularly in the training of volunteer leaders/committee members. Volunteer leaders have a wide variety of skills, needs, expec­tations, desires and commitment to bring to an organization.' Failure to effectively match an individual to a place in the organization, compounded by inadequate orientation or training will result in the loss of those people. Similarly in the case of professional managers/workers, who usually work for lower salaries relative to profit ori­ented organizations out of a sense of commitment, an ineffective manage­ment committee will often lead to alternative employment being sought. Management Needs

Therefore effective and appropri­ate management techniques, training programs and coordination of efforts are as important in a well directed development organization as in any profit-oriented or service oriented organization. Full attention needs to be paid to administrative structures and decision making processes. Are they the most appropriate? Do they serve the needs of the organization and target people? Is sufficient information flowing to and from policy makers and different executives and professionals?

Methods and modes of setting goals, planning to meet these, and evaluation techniques are also very vital for a development organization. Given that little research is normally conducted into the question "What do the target people really want from our organization?", a development organi­zation may consider using market research methods, promotional cam­paigns with consequent modification of programs and of the overload their style, in order to effectively manage. At present, it is fair to say that these latter processes of research and pro­motion arc very          

[ poorly used, with some exceptions.            

Adequate forward planning and  forecasting of future trends is another  important step in developing modern   by

and efficient systems of managements,  if organizations are to match target  people's needs. This is particularly so given increasing difficulties in securing funding, the rapid pace of change in society and the changing of develop-     

ment issues.Given the factors of funding and   rapid change,  along with stretched  staffing workloads and expense, it may   be that development organizations will  need to begin looking towards more  sharing and coordination of Policy Development, Research, etc.Most developmental organizations ; recognize all the foregoing needs, but usually find themselves so over­whelmed by the immediate need to react to day-to-day issues that they are unable to take the time to carefully develop a more comprehensive and integrated plan for their own situation*, More sharing may overcome those problems day by day. ...


by Md. Mosaddek Hussain

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