The literature on nonprofit management has embraced the concept of “accountability” to target urgent challenges related to NGO probity and integrity, and there have been attempts in the literature to use rational-choice-based governance approaches to solve them. Although the existing principal–agent frameworks provide important insights, they are limited to the analysis of financial relationships between NGOs and donors. We contribute to the literature in developing a comprehensive rational-choice-based governance approach to analyze all stakeholder relationships of NGOs. Applying the research program of ordonomics, we unpack two fundamental interaction problems: (a) the “stakeholder dilemma” between the NGO and a single accountability holder as a one-sided social dilemma and (b) the “competition dilemma” among rival NGOs as a many-sided social dilemma. We show that improving NGO accountability in relation to intended beneficiaries, peer organizations, and the general public also requires identifying the underlying governance problem as a competition dilemma focusing on collective self-regulation as a solution.
- NGO accountability
- Social dilemma analysis