Saving the moral capital of NGOs: identifying one-sided and many-sided social dilemmas in NGO accountability

Stefan Hielscher, Jan Winkin, Angela Crack, Ingo Pies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (SciVal)
78 Downloads (Pure)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1562–1594
Number of pages33
Issue number4
Early online date12 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017


  • Advocacy
  • Governance
  • NGO accountability
  • Ordonomics
  • Social dilemma analysis


Dive into the research topics of 'Saving the moral capital of NGOs: identifying one-sided and many-sided social dilemmas in NGO accountability'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this