The Paradox of Sustainability: Reflections on NGOs in Bangladesh

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Drawing on research from Bangladesh, this article questions the dominance of a narrow view of sustainability that rests predominantly on financial considerations. The push for financial sustainability has produced ambiguous results and, more important, has also introduced a degree of uncertainty into the relationship nongovernmental organizations maintain with their members. This article will argue that in the context of Bangladesh, an accurate notion of sustainability rests more on social and political considerations than on economic ones. Fundamental tensions exist between social/political and economic considerations, and paradoxically, the relentless pursuit of one may undermine efforts to establish the other. The article therefore seeks to subject the logic and validity of efforts to promote sustainability among nongovernmental organizations in Bangladesh to theoretical and empirical scrutiny.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-42
Number of pages16
JournalAnnals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • Shadow Economy
  • International Linkages to Development
  • Institutional Arrangements (O170)
  • Sustainable Development (Q010)
  • Formal and Informal Sectors
  • Role of International Organizations (O190)


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