This research will explore impacts of leadership effectiveness in strengthening influence of marginalized civil groups and subsets of civil society on the political process in Liberia. Lack of inputs of marginalized civil groups and local communities to make public decisions on budgeting and allocation of resources for development programs in the communities and in selecting those who run their local offices is the theme. The focus of this theme will be on the role of the New African Research and Development Agencies (NARDA) operating in Liberia. Civil society in Liberia faces several challenges, including lack of leadership effectiveness and accountability especially on resources. In an effort to resolve these challenges, NARDA decided to create indigenous non-governmental organizations (INGOs) in all the sub-political divisions (counties and regions) to enhance the quality of governance based on the logic of transparency. In addition, NARDA continues to implement capacity improvement programs to help the indigenous organizations become effective. This case study will therefore, explore the complex intricacies of leadership development, building of ambient relations between these organizations and the national and regional governments including probable donors-international, and community based organizations (CBOs). This is from the context of Wall et al. (1992), which emphasized leadership role in understanding organizational intra-relationship and interrelationship among stakeholders as it fosters CBOs and CSOs, which are important actors in the governing processes of Liberia. Both primary and secondary data will be collected from interviews, archives of civil groups, public records, and from research questions. The latter are bound to reveal the difficulties
implementing leadership capacity building programs, or training in such a developing nation, and including the expectations of donors in creating well-functioning local or regional non-governmental organizations. The data analysis will be done in three-steps that may include coding and triangulation of the data to demonstrate their connection to the issue being studied and their connective relationship, using the qualitative software NVl07. The analysis will enshrine the reliability of leadership effectiveness in fostering marginalized civil groups’ influence on public decision making using strategic advocacy, policy engagement, and implementation on all levels of government in Liberia.
I dedicate this proposal to the memory of my late Mother, Weltee Tanneh Gewleh and my late Father, Nelson Nah Gewleh, who taught me the value of hard work and how it nurtures human dignity. These two people taught me integrity as an essential element of the wholesomeness of an individual, in this case, me, enshrined through dedication to others, and true love for the family that will guide me well through life. It is also dedicated to the memory of the late Jerome Toe, Head of Security at the Port of Greenville, Liberia, who perished during Liberia’s civil war. He taught me the essence of perseverance and the willingness to choose a program or project that one loves and enthusiastically pursues.
I want to express my gratitude to the Almighty God for keeping me in good health, giving me the strength, inspiration and the opportunity to complete this portion of my project. I am thankful for the chance accorded to me to gain new knowledge through this project, both in my academic and personal life. I also want to extend my sincere gratitude to my Uncle, Bishop Stephen J. Weltee, who stood by me in the early stages of my life when both my parents passed on. Uncle, you have demonstrated your unconditional love and support in every circumstance or situation I encountered. I say thank you for everything you have taught me, and the good advice you have given me to guide me throughout my life.
It is a common fact that the journey towards attaining a doctoral degree characterized by tough and sleepless experiences that involve many hours in front of the computer, and reading of long chapters of books and articles at the study table. However, I am grateful for the privilege of getting to know and work with different knowledgeable people, who have touched my life in different ways. I want to thank many of my close and distant friends, including my distant casual advisor, Mr. Joe Yankoon with whom I shared laughter and tears, for their support. As for Mr. Joe, your presence in my life has been a source of strength and comfort that motivate me to keep going forward.
I say thanks to my Mentor and Assessor, and now my committee Chair, Dr. Hilda Shepeard for your commitment to seeing me through this difficult journey. Thank you for the encouraging words, and the easy-to-understand manner of explaining difficult subjects. May God continue to improve your patience, and your easy way of erasing doubts from people’s minds. I also say thanks to members of my committee, Dr. Mark Stallon and others. Your willingness to serve on my committee makes me feel that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Introduction to the Study
Over one hundred and sixty years of political independence, so to speak, yielded no positively distinguishing or differentiating effects in the nation of Liberia from a large number of nation-states that have not been able to perform the basic duties or functions of the government by providing primary human needs for their citizens. Just like these nations, Liberia is characterized by, and seen to suffer from violence, economic breakdowns, political incompetency, contradictions, gross immoralities, and lack of ethics enshrined in the form of rampant corruption. The effects of the aforementioned problems on the population are abject or endemic poverty, distrust among citizens as well as between those in political authorities, as depicted in the current situation in most nations (Chomsky, 2006; Rothbery, 2002).
In the post conflict environment of Liberia, the new desire is to meet the challenges facing the reconstruction process in a manner that reconnects the state with the citizens, rebuilds trust and legitimacy as the core priority of managing development progress for the national government and its international institutions partners. Fostering basic understanding of how leadership can generate positive change in the post-conflict Liberian Society is highly dependent on how those in charge manage citizens’ expectations while enhancing trust and legitimacy. It seems the obvious tactics involved in meeting these challenges include, mobilizing and energizing citizens through an inclusive or participatory process, sometimes referred to as meta-governance. Meta-governance is a collaborative governing strategy that utilizes multiple stakeholders in public policy making, in order to achieve desired results or goals.
The research will focus on the impacts of leadership effectiveness in fostering meta-governance, by involving citizen groups, issues oriented non-profit agencies, professional institutions, associations, and community based organizations to manage public policy making. This will be used to address citizens’ concerns, and thereby minimize resistance to the implementation of policies as they might affect the lives of all involved in a positive or negative manner. In essence, it is a move from the old ways or traditional manners of thinking and methods of practice.
There is a proliferation of Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Liberia. This atmosphere started since the outbreak of civil war in late 1989 with the initial number of no less than 20 international NGOs operating in Liberia. Currently, the number has increased in addition to the Liberians themselves having formed several new NGOs or regenerated the existing ones and still counting, according to Geepu-Nah Tiepoh (2006).
However, there is pervasive and systematic capacity deprivation resulting from years of conflict and bad governance that further complicates the equation. The lack of requisite Liberian NGOs’ capacity is not limited to only one sector; it is a deficiency for all the sectors that undermine state’s effectiveness and that of indigenous non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the business sector. In fact, a one-year review of the nation’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (2008-9) has revealed continuing acute and brutal nature of the capacity constraints on Liberia’s progress. Extreme weak implementation capacity, poor intersectional coordination, and the absence of strong leadership at the national and local levels were identified as key constraints. The impacts of the absence of strong leadership or its presence form the nucleus of the anticipated research.
In the new global community, international non-governmental organizations are strongly involved in building civil society organizations in Sub Sahara Africa including Liberia. A clear example is the New African Research and Development Agency’s (NARDA) efforts in Liberia and in other West African States. NARDA is a European based International Non-government Organization that has been operating in Liberia since the 1990s.
Studies revealed the depth of international – organizations’ (NGOs) roles in the development of civil institutions concerned with social policy making in Liberia. However, lack of efficient strategic capacity development and effective leadership advancement of existing civil groups or Liberian NGOs impairs their abilities to function efficiently.
The pending research proposes to address problems created when civil groups and the disenfranchised in national and local communities do not have any or strong voice in the making of budgetary policies, allocation of funds for development projects in their communities, and in the selection of their local officers. There are impacts related to the presence and absence of effective leadership in civil organizations, mainly in strengthening their influence on the political process in Liberia. Identifying these impacts and their implications in the lives of the Liberian population will be the central target of the study.
Background of the Problem
Like in most countries of Sub Sahara Africa, the origin of conflict in Liberia was the exclusionary practices of the freed slave settlers’ government that unquestionably marginalized majority of the indigenous population from the political process. The over-concentration of power in a secluded political system narrowed or eliminated space for civil society involvement in public affairs as well as in the development of their capacities. This condition inflamed ethnic and class disparities plus animosity according to Liberia’s document for Poverty Reduction Strategy (Liberia: PRS, 2008).
In a bid to break from the past, Liberia has resorted to the use of a different kind of leadership. For this to be effectively achieved, an inclusive, responsive, and transparent rebuilding vision is required for the process of open citizen participation, stakeholder groups’ inputs along with regular poverty assessment (Sakiko & McCandles, 2009). In simple terms, the working groups should include government, civil society, private sector, academia, Liberians Diaspora, and donor community groups formed at different stages of the vision formation process as the document reiterated.
In view of the need to demonstrate competence, the impacts of leadership effectiveness in strengthening the influence of marginalized civil groups in the political process of Liberia cannot be overstated. In the case of Liberia, several reasons account for the absence of effective leadership with corresponding effects on the performance of marginalized civil groups and community-based organizations (CBOs) as well as in the lives of the people they represent. The absence of such expertise affects every element of the society. Each of the civil society agencies (associations, institutions, community-based organizations, etc.) is organized around common values in contrast to the public and private sectors that depend on the skills and expertise of those who serve as symbols of leadership.
It is important to clarify or erase any misunderstandings of the term leadership. The most common mistake is that, it is being solely confused as a process where an individual with authority gives orders to subordinates and controls their activities. In contrast, the true understanding is that it refers to a dynamic of cooperative efforts by individuals in any organization aimed at achieving set goals. Like the other two sectors, civil society needs effective leadership that may guide civil groups separately in pursuit of their specific visions or missions, and at the same time, motivating members to elevate their performance. In spite of the international non-governmental organizations’ (INGOs), efforts in developing effective leadership in civil organizations is a misery to Liberian civil society organizations. This is therefore the major problem of the study, and the research will aim at getting solutions to this problem.
The growth of civil organizations in Liberia can be accounted on several reasons along with difficulties to achieve leadership effectiveness. International donors have been funding NGOs capacity building programs in the country because these civil groups lack the capacity (expertise, skills and resources). Therefore, as its purpose, the study will explore the impacts of leadership effectiveness to marginalized civil groups, community-based organizations (CBOs). The study will further look at how they may or may not be able to perform the dual functions of policy advocacy, direct engagement, and implementation in the form of social service delivery as a strong tier in an emerging democracy. The study will also strive to identify attributes of effective leadership and traits of individuals capable of strengthening civil society’s influence on the public policy making process in Liberia for two main reasons. First, on the grassroots level it is common knowledge that no development process has the chances of prosperity without broad citizens’ participation. “Liberian NGOs can help mobilize various elements of the civil society to have a voice in economic and social policy debates” (Gladwin, Kennelly and Krause, 1995; McLennan, 2005). On the same note, they can help a great deal in decision-making. This is because they can help explain the benefits and costs of different policy choices so that the people are well informed to pursue development in positive directions (Gladwin, Kennelly and Krause, 1995; McLennan, 2005).
The second reason is that “the combined forces of globalization, debt crises, and economic adjustments have weakened the economic role of governments, especially in the developing nation-states” (Tiepoh, 2006). As a result, Liberian NGOs can assist the government in influencing international trade, investments, and donor policy debates involving Liberia’s interests. They have the ability to formulate the country’s socio-economic position at international forums and influence sustainable adjustment policy attitude towards Liberia (Tiepoh, 2006).
Nevertheless, for Liberian NGOs to perform such crucial roles, they must be fully involved and have inputs in national development policies and programs in addition to qualified leaders in order to be well informed and capable of international participation. This also means that the government has to agree that NGOs advocacy for democracy, management accountability, and human rights is of great importance for national advancement. As such, the government should therefore abandon non-democratic behavior and fiscal corruption (Room, 1995; and Tiepoh, 2006).
Statement of the Problem
The growth of civil society developments is nurtured through several international funding mechanisms such as the World Bank, the European Union, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), European institutions, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Yet, civil society organizations in Liberia lack capacity, which poses serious challenges to the emerging democracy in Liberia. This issue is vital to the viability of the new nation in the sense of being created from the ashes of civil conflicts preceded by 160 plus years of dysfunctional government. Despite the fact that the civil society cannot govern, it can provide several benefits and help improve the lives of members or citizens in several ways. As mentioned above, it can mobilize communities and organize their several diverse voices in making policies that protect their basic rights and empower those who are powerless (Then and Walkenhorst, 1999). The connective reality is that when government and civil organizations work together, motivation and empowerment can be attained while social capacity development takes place (Chester, 2004: Kilpatrick and Miller, 2007).
Moreover, in a democratic nation, the state and civil society are interdependent and complement each other. Therefore, they cannot be separated if a sustainable society is the paramount desire (Chandhoke, 2007). In the case of Liberia, where agencies of the government are very weak, cases of poverty and illiteracy of citizens are high. In addition, institutional capacity to control corruption and inspire citizens seems dominant (Minor, 2007). Therefore, effective leadership is necessary to fill the capacity gap. Interestingly, civil society organizations tend to perform active functions when citizens are educated in an atmosphere that allows active participation in public life by helping the government perform basic services (Martin, 2002; Samuel, 2007). The table below shows an accurate depiction of the Liberian population literacy (CIA Facts book, 2011). By default, this United States Government’s Agency permits students and professional organizations to use published information below for educational purposes without restriction. The table below shows that education should be one of the priorities on Liberia’s national agenda.
|Table 8: Literacy of total population: 3,786.764|
|definition: age 15 and over can read and write|
|total population: 57.5 %|
|male: 73.3 %|
|female: 41.6 %|
|Table 9. School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)|
|total: 11 years|
|male: 13 years|
|Female: 9 years (2000 est.)|
As noted in Goetz (2007), many post-conflict nations try reforming the structures of government, so is Liberia in order to meet her responsibility as a nation-state. It is a process, which requires legislative actions with strong civil society agencies. This is in order to connect the government to citizens by conducting a public oversight of governmental processes, as well as negotiating and nurturing a new understanding of what enables institutional change.
Obviously, for the civil society to adequately fulfill the aforementioned functions the state must ensure some level of social stability, functioning democratic institutions, a sense of citizenship, inclusiveness of marginalized and minority groups, and access to information (Fowler,1996). At the same token, civil society organizations must erase the challenges posed by the lack of expertise, skills, experience, and knowledge in their ranks (Foster, Berkowitz, Lounsbury, Jacobson, and Allen, 2001).
The existence of civil groups and community-based organizations in Liberia is in the best interest of the people. However, there are doubts surrounding their abilities to function effectively in the performance of the tasks of advocacy and social service delivery in the absence of effective leadership. The research will seek to identify and address series of related sub-problems resulting from civil society organization’s lack of leadership effectiveness. The difficulty or main problem of interest is that the civil society development in Liberia focuses on the sector’s growth while failing to emphasize skills development of those potentially slated to run these indigenous non-governmental organizations for sustainability.
Civil society agencies including marginalized groups need skilled individuals committed to strengthening the voices of their constituents in making budgeting decisions and allocating resources for development projects in their communities. Additionally, these agencies play the role of selecting those who run their local offices.
Nature of the Study
The study will explore issues related to and embedded in social change. It will be in a frame of qualitative approach suitable to getting an understanding of the probable impacts resulting from the absence of leadership effectiveness in civil society organizations, including marginalized groups in rural and urban communities.
The case study will employ interviews of leaders of community based organizations (CBOs) of Liberian descends. This will help identify the qualities of effective leaders who have successfully raised the poster and influence of marginalized civil groups in their communities. It means the study will explore countywide associations, tribal groups, and other affiliations’ experiences, behaviors and attitudes inside and outside of their groups. Focusing on the elements of developing efficiency in civil society organization leadership, will be the theme of the case study of the Europe-based non-governmental organization (NGO), NARDA’s civil society organization, and building programs in Liberia, West Africa.
To have a better understanding of the issues involved in creating and sustaining leadership effectiveness, the case study will examine a holistic approach to what constitutes effective leadership in the three sectors of Liberian society. This will be achieved by considering cultural resonance and the potential to neutralize likely cultural resistance, as well as an outright resentment of the change process.
The relationship among leaders or agents of the three sectors, the international institutions, NGOs, and citizen groups seems healthy but tenuous and complex. The dynamics can be discussed through the lens of Wall et al (1992) theory that propounds on two vital roles of civil society organization leaders. One of them being to have a vision and the ability to implement it, and the other is to prepare group members or followers to elevate their performance for higher levels of responsibilities while nurturing internal and external relations.
According to Wall et al (1992), effective leadership is compulsory for the success of any organization or civil group. On this basis, the theory advanced the need for strong symbolic individuals and well skilled cooperative membership. It further revealed that the symbol of leadership (the individual) must show the desire to lead and believe that an acceptance of such premise is only the proceeding point on the path of leadership. One may imply that leadership is a performing art in which the artist’s tool is himself or herself. This means the mastery of the art of leadership comes along with the mastery of oneself. Therefore, it is rational to infer that leadership development is a process of self-development (Kouzes and Posner, 1999). In terms of civil organizational effective leadership and community leadership, those seen as the leaders (symbols of leadership) rely on a blend of tools and personal skills as discussed in Fortier (1999).
To sum it all, Wall et al (1992) theorized that effective CSOs and community leaders serve as reservoirs that contain remarkable resources to be used as instruments for assessing community organizational assets and techniques for stimulating cooperation among members and learning in their communities. It added, in similar vein that teen-adults dialogue is an important process involving a large number of people in determining key indicators of their communities’ well-being. Moreover, the usefulness of the leader’s tools is determined by the size and scope of his or her personal skills as emphasized in Esterling (2009).
Considering the leader’s purpose, which is to foster understanding of the likely impacts originating from the absence of leadership effectiveness in strengthening inputs of marginalized civil groups on the public policy making process in Liberia, the study will seek to answer the following questions.
- What are the challenges in installing leadership effectiveness in indigenous civil society organizations in Liberia?
- What constitutes leadership effectiveness, and its impacts on civil society?
- By what standards and strategies can civil groups participate in public decision-making, and in the selection of their local and national public officers?
- What are some of the constraints and drawbacks that bear on the capacity of civil society in Liberia?
- What kind of relations can civil groups develop between themselves and political parties in Liberia?
Purpose of the study
(Doppelt, 2003; Connolly and York, 2003) asserted that the quest for leadership is primarily an inner journey to discover one’s true self. They continued to say that this journey comprises of strengths, skills, prejudices and talents, and a single recognition of one’s unique abilities and limitations. With this understanding, the purpose of the study will be to explore the concept of effective leadership to determine what it entails, and how it relates to civil society groups. This will include the participation of marginalized civil entities in democratic governance in Liberia.
Throughout the research, the terms, leadership effectiveness and effective leadership, will be used interchangeably. Both terms mean the same for the purpose of the pending research. Effective leadership is a guiding standard by which the symbol goes about confusing, but a rewarding process of pursuing a community’s or an organization’s common goal. Sometimes, it takes inner reflection to uncover the identity of its purpose. Probably under the guidance of personal experience, one may be inspired to step into a leadership role at the community level by sometimes acting in self-interest, for loved ones, or for the entire community. Leadership refers to the empirical or practical applications of the concepts identified in the preceding phrase. Therefore, there should be no doubt in understanding that having clarity of purpose in leadership is essential. Leadership effectiveness on the other hand is the process that serves as the source of energy and commitment among members in an organization to work cooperatively as a unit of change (Gray, 1985; Gilchrist, 2002; Litschka, Morkom, & Schunder, 2006).
Effecting change in a community or in an organization is a long and slow process that requires sustainable focus. According to Fortier et al. (1999), leading within a community is a complex task as well, which requires clarity of purpose so as not to get involved in many activities that may ruin the stint of effectiveness. Every organization, including marginalized civil society groups, community based organizations (CBOs), and the disenfranchised, do have values they uphold. They deeply hold views of what they consider worthwhile. As with all mental models, mainly humans, there is a distinction between values one professes to believe in and values in action, which actually guides one’s behavior (McCann, 1983; Pelletier, McCullum, Kraak, and Asher, 2003).
In the specific situation of marginalized civil groups, inclusion in the making of decisions that affect their member’s lives is a value they uphold on the ground that they deserve better living conditions in their communities. Therefore, they insist that their communities and organizations deserve leadership effectiveness values that are often displayed in much of what they do. Therefore, effective leaders (symbols of leadership) must strive to act consistently on what they value most. In essence, the degree of leadership effectiveness that will strengthen the influence of marginalized CSOs on the public policy making process in Liberia depends on the authenticity of the individual who is consistently involved in the ongoing pursuit of closing the gap between the values the group expresses and how members live by them as emphasized in Grubbs (2002).
In clear terms, Fortier (1999) concluded that effective CSO Leadership involves working with people of diverse backgrounds, and should therefore adopt the values of collaboration, listening, empowerment, shared leadership (delegate), and democracy in order to build sustainable communities and organizations. As an art in the arena of diverse interest groups, CSO leaders should consistently adopt several tactics that are coherent with the values in action and align them with the implicit values of the tools being used. For example, future search for leaders may prove ineffective if the current CSO leadership is not authentic and fails to practice on regular basis the value of inclusivity. Briefly, Fortier (1999) observed that civil organizations’ leadership in and out refers to the need for alignment between one’s value, the tools, and the teaching one uses to build a vibrantly sustainable community based organization.
Considering the relevancy of the principle values above, the literature supports the theoretical view that personal-based leadership experiences are closely related, and that the one person considered the symbol of leadership, when at his or her best, does adopt tactical approaches fitting the challenges before the entity. As noted in (Fortier 1999; & Kendall, 2000), such individuals act as role models by establishing the constituents, peers, colleagues’ scopes, and anticipating that consumers alike should be treated well, including the manners goals should be pursued. Such leaders also inspire a shared vision upon which subgroup leaders may draw their own distinct talents and tap into their collaborative leadership values. That individual symbol of effective leadership tends to use his or her skills to help others discover their own leadership talents. In other words, she or he recruits others into her dream, breathes life into their vision to get them to see exciting possibilities of their future (Straw and Stowe, 1998).
In addition, leadership effectiveness tends to challenge the process by searching for opportunities to change current conditions through seeking of new ways to improve the organizations using new ideas and taking risks. This degree of leadership effectiveness fosters collaboration, builds spirited teams, and accepts mutual respect as a tool that sustains extraordinary efforts. It also strives for and nurtures an atmosphere of trust and human dignity as it strengthens others by making each one feels capable and powerful. That relevancy manifests in qualities that catalyze leadership effectiveness in the pursuit of productive mechanism for a better community or organization involvement in public decisions making and implementation practices as asserted in (Hovland, 2003; Howell, 2002 and Court, 2006).
Significance of the Study
Civil society organizations and institutions connect the state and society. Consequently, civil society agencies in Liberia should be capable of facilitating public oversight of public and private processes, as well as negotiate new understandings and building of alliances that promote institutional change (Goetz, 2007). About this concern, it is not only necessary to expand the discussion on how to create new positive social change in post-conflict society, but also recognize that marginalized civil groups and community based organizations deserve leadership effectiveness that will improve their abilities as functioning state entities that epitomize some degree of social stability. In this context, the study will pinpoint or identify what constitutes leadership effectiveness, which may strengthen civil society organizations including marginalized civil groups to attain full sense of citizenship and inclusion in the making of decisions that may affect their communities.
By making knowledge, skills and expertise available to these disenfranchised groups, their participation and access to needed information will be improved. This will enable them to organize themselves around common issues and demand government’s action for collaborative solutions as observed in (Jorgensen, 1996; Fowler, 1996). Those who believe in positive social change actively make new plans for their cause and find new strategic ways and tactics to get involved in related causes.
Marginalized civil groups’ having an effective leadership means opportunities for them to advocate for developmental initiatives and focus on empowering them in favor of getting funding decisions regardless of the purpose. However, this will be based on inputs of the targeted users in support of better governing practices. In context, the benefits of such decisions include using them as platforms for developing better strategies or programs that may facilitate access for rural or village dwelling groups, who are basically collective representatives of citizens in the remote areas of the society. Of course, it may nurture a policy making process that will influence delivery of positive social change in the entire nation.
Definition of Terms and Variables
- Civil Society Organization (CSO): They are non-governmental and not-for-profit organizations or agencies that work hand in hand with intergovernmental agencies in promoting the collective interests of citizens in context of cultural, social, political and religious professional aspects of life embedded in communities (Foreign policy Association, 2006).
- Governance: Refers to the process by which government agents are selected held accountable, evaluated, and replaced. It is the process by which government and stakeholders manage state’s resources efficiently. They also design, implement, and enforce logical policies, regulations, and show respect for the rule of law, as well as institutions used to govern economic and social interactions (World Bank, 2003).
- Meta-governance: Also refers to the general policy of discourse in the society that demands, legitimizes, or criticizes specific contributions of the state, business community, civil society, as well as individuals to the collective life, or common good of all. It is upon which that the design and redesign of legislation, political institutions, formal procedures, and other structuring elements are based (Haus & Klausen, 2010).
- Complementarity between Urban Leadership and Community involvement: It refers to the new modes of government-societal interactions that heavily rely on the use of partnership and common problem-solving tactics (Haus & Klausen, 2010).
- Complementarity: Refers to the practices that both political leaders and community actors do exercise within governance processes. Allowing community involvement in the decision making process is an essential contribution of public leaders. Additionally, getting involved and contributing to governance capacity are genuine contributions of community actors. Specifically, it takes on special forms in empirical reality that there exists democratic legitimacy by broad inclusion and by mobilizing resources, which means effectiveness may be realized as asserted in (Sweeting & Getimis, 2006).
- Decision-Making Body: In context of the study, local and national policymakers are people that have influence on the directions of local and national policymaking processes.
- Non-governmental Organization (NGO): It is a private or nonprofit organization, which is not associated with a governmental body or institution (World Bank, 2007).
- Community-based organization (CBO): Sometimes called Grassroots organization (GRO); they are subset groups or entities of non-governmental organizations formed by ordinary inhabitants of an area.
- Faith-based nongovernmental organization (FBNGO), donor controlled nongovernmental organizations (DCNGO), and government-controlled nongovernmental organizations (GCNGO) are special issues-oriented organizations whose purpose is only to serve one segment in society.
- Intermediate NGO: A term used in NARDA, which refers to an indigenous NGO, or CBO that usually represents a network of subset community groups. It is trained in organizational management, and it understands the rights and responsibilities along with the techniques for asserting civil actions and advocacy under the local and national democratic system.
- Participation in Public Policy Making: Purposely for the study, it is referred to as a stakeholders’ direct involvement in local, regional, or national policymaking decisions concerning budgetary issues and allocation of resources (Kooiman, 2002).
Scopes and Delimitations of the Research
The scope of the research will be limited to what constitutes leadership effectiveness, and how it might help strengthen civil society organizations’ participation in making public decisions concerning budgeting, allocating, and identifying development initiatives in their communities, as well as in the selection of those who run their local affairs. Using the theory of Wall et al (1992), the study will enhance understanding of the challenges and variables and values embedded in effective leadership. The characteristics and roles of individuals identified as symbols of leadership will also be considered. Data will be collected from civil or community based groups of Liberian descend in the Diaspora in addition to using secondary sources. The study’s topic reflects the need for civil capacities in all the sectors of the society and at all levels, whether functional, intellectual, cultural, structural, and social.
Chapter 1 discusses the confusing nature of leadership effectiveness and what it constitutes, as well as its importance to meeting the needs of marginalized civil organizations including community-based organizations (CSOs). The growth of non-governmental organizations in the 1980s and its rapid expansion in the recent decades, has led to an increase in the demand for skilled personnel, or experts in the nonprofit sector in Liberia. This is because these CSOs are taking on more responsibilities to improve institutional adequacy, structures, infrastructural, socio-economic, and culture-oriented political decentralization around the world, and particularly in Liberia. It is important because, sometimes, these organizations serve as the bridge between citizens, the government, and businesses.
They are often used as the sources of power by politicians or government agents and as the medium of markets for large corporations. Chapter 2 portrays a review of research literature or the knowledge base about the theory of leadership effectiveness, groups’ leadership, traits, and attributes of the symbol of leadership as well as the internal dynamic and contents of external relations. Chapter 3 conducts an overview of qualitative research methodology and describes the research design and its instruments in a grounded research frame of a case study. Chapter 4 will report the findings of the study, and chapter 5 will summarize the findings and provide conclusions and recommendations.
The main purpose of the proposed study is to contribute to the body of knowledge on what constitutes leadership effectiveness, and its impacts on marginalized civil society groups. The study intends to identify attributes of individuals capable of strengthening the indigenous non-governmental organizations community to participate productively in the governing apparatus of Liberia, as an effective influential sector of society.
Much has been written with regard to the elements of leadership effectiveness in the process of creating efficient alternative change strategies. For instance, the Third meeting of the Committee on Human Development and Civil Society (CHDCS) adopted the theme: “Participation and Partnerships for Improving Development and Governance in Africa” (Issues Paper, 2005). The aim of the meeting was to design strategies that would facilitate dialogues among policy makers, experts, and practitioners on the issues and factors related to the strengthening of participation and partnerships in the development and governance process in Africa and Liberia is a nation state on the continent.
Nowadays, in Liberia the concepts of participation and partnership have become critical considerations in development. Therefore, the government of Liberia is adopting participatory approaches in assessing needs of its people, and in implementing programs and assessing policy impacts. This mechanism leads to openness and transparency in policymaking including the creation and sustenance of the right for accountability that may provide the basis on which citizens can build up social reciprocity according to the African Union’s Issues paper (2005).
In addition, the Economic Commission for Africa (EAC, 2004) asserted that a progressive sustainable development could only be achieved with a vibrant and active citizenry that engage in decision-making forums and processes through collective and individual means, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or wealth. Therefore, it is essential to develop an effective channel of accountability between public service providers and the citizenry by implementing options of decentralization, and encouraging greater choice and competition through ways that incorporate the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and civil society.
Specifically, in the case of Liberia, emerging from violent civil conflicts resulted from decades of dysfunctional government, coupled with lack of capacity and misuse of national resources, absence of the rule of law, and obvious persistent rampant corruption. In addition to this, the challenges of building a fragile peace and addressing extreme poverty at all levels of society and encouraging civil organizations inputs in policymaking are enormous.
Leading differently, and moving away from failed practices, demands a participatory or inclusive response that is transparent. Such a process should adhere to the principles of citizens’ participation that involves working groups, agencies of civil society, the academia, the Liberian Diaspora, and the donor community (PRS, 2006). The aim of the strategy will be to infuse conflict-sensitive and preventive approach that would ensure historical, social, political, and economic causes of conflicts, such as, inequity, exclusion, powerlessness, injustice, and human rights abuse are fully taken into consideration. Of course, this approach requires effective leadership in every organ of society.
Theories of Leadership Effectiveness
A number of theories of civil society leadership effectiveness emphasize the importance of sticking to a vision, and creating the right atmosphere or conditions that will enhance the organization’s ability to achieve its goals. Like the public and private sectors, the nonprofit sector, including civil society agencies need constructive leaderships that will improve their positions as major players in public governance.
Wall et al (1992) theorized that effective leadership tends to lead to CSO advocacy for the peoples’ determination to insert themselves into the political discourse on the basis that ordinary citizens are capable of fashioning their own affairs. Another student of the subject added that such leadership effectiveness helps provide an alternative or counterpoint to the state’s position and that of other individual citizens (the powerful). The student added that it helps build a vibrant relationship between the state and the entire society for the benefit of all (Roland & McNutt, 2007).
Further theoretical assertion is that under an effective leadership, civil society tends to provide opportunities for all community-based organizations (CBO), and develops a sense of public awareness that may lead to identification and recognition of common values as it represents minority groups in public decision making (Finn and Melana, 2007; Blunkett, 2005). Moreover, (Knight and Ball, 1999; Hyden, 1997) concluded that civil society tends to insert meaning, and create capacity for leadership in communities that can change and advance local democracy. Thus, it leads to balance of power in support of a greater social inclusion, justice, dignity, equality, opportunity, and respect for all.
In a similar context, Scott and Lidell (2009) concluded that constructive CSO leaders do justify their understanding of the subject on the basis that civil society is a vital entity of a democratic government and it is therefore, one of the founding blocks of democratic governance that allows the people to be heard aloud. Henceforth, leadership effectiveness is essential to civil society organizations where CSOs’ role increases significantly as emphasized in Verba and Almond (1989). These authors argued further that elements of politics in voluntary organization do facilitate better awareness and a more informed citizenry that can hold government accountable and make better voting decisions.
When leadership effectiveness is an asset to civil society organizations (CSOs) in a weak state which is suffering at multiple stress points including weak institutional capacity and abject poverty of citizens, as it is in Liberia, well-functioning civil groups are needed to fill in the capacity gap by providing basic services to citizens. Presently, international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) are providing services in Liberia because indigenous CSOs are in a small number, and the ones that exist are weak, or incapacitated in all regions (Southern, Northern, Western, Central, and south-central regions) for instance.
The knowledge base of this subject reveals that strong civil society sector is needed. Yet, CSOs actors in Liberia continue to work hard to prevent worsening of conditions in this weak nation-state by promoting community development and strengthening of human rights, and so forth as discussed in Smith and Wiest (2007). Further, the literature enhances an understanding that effective civil society leadership means better community building, and is efficiently equal to improved democratic governance that employs the principles of meta-governance, a governing process that inculcates inputs of civil society entities in policymaking and implementation. More so, the inclusion of marginalized civil groups in the public policymaking process fully utilizes available talents, skills, and expertise of professionals, religious entities, and ordinary citizens in the communities, as well as during implementation.
Leadership effectiveness is not an abstract concept but an empirical approach that takes place in collaboration, alliance, and partnership building in areas of environment sensitive community development, education expansion, and in healthcare delivery. In addition, it is manifested in fostering or advocating the interests of the disenfranchised in urban, rural or villages. In the case of Liberia, there are opportunities to develop and create leadership effectiveness that may materialize in change management, and in bureaucratic capacities mainly in the public and nonprofit sectors according to Reinarz and Torori (2010).
As the nation of Liberia searches for effective leadership to take effect in all areas of society (public, private, and not-for-profit sectors), actors of all might find benefits when mindful that the type and style of leadership chosen should be flexible and inclusive. Whether such process should adopt the strategy of “Large Group Intervention Design” theory of Janet Michelle Hammer (2006), or the theory of “Building Policy from the ground up: Regionalism, equitable development, and New leaders development” of Angela Glover Blackwell (2005), remains a question to answer.
Moreover, there are numerous theoretical models on this subject worthy of consideration. Consequently, to broaden or advance a clear understanding of the related issues, it seems a logical review of few of these models is necessary since there is no unique single solution to all of society’s ills. For instance, Hammer (2010) teaches that effective community or societal leadership can be achieved using “large group intervention models” as a tool for community visioning and planning on the premise that such models are suited for the conditions of complexity, plurality, and uncertainty that often associate with the process. Yet, it concluded that there is little study on what is expected out of this model and how best they are designed.
Furthermore, Easterling (2009) observed that fundamental understanding of leadership effectiveness takes many forms. It can be in a situational, transformational, and very adaptive. As such, no strategic approach should be discounted in as much as societal issues are interrelated, and different in different communities.
Hammer (2010) also revealed that the LGI theoretical model is made up of four design principles. One is the “whole system principle” which argues for a full range of stakeholders’ inclusion in a process that fosters the enhancement of relationships necessary effective action. Two is the “constructivist principle” which argues that reality is co-created through social interactions through which understandings and relationships are developed when people engage in dialogue. Three is the “participatory principle” which teaches that people tend to support, or claim ownership of a program they helped create. Four is the “future principle” which suggests that skewing activities towards defining and achieving future vision rather than solving current problems may create an atmosphere that most effectively unleashes people’s energy.
Other students of this subject offered their perspectives about the use of the LGI approach in strengthening leadership effectiveness. Some believed that there are elements that can be used to enhance use of the LGI model. For instance, Bunker and Alban (1997) pointed out four specific issues in the design of LGI. First is the use of small-group -task-oriented activities to counter the lack of opportunity for members to voice out their opinions. Second is that event planning should provide enough structure to guide participants but not rigid, or too little to disorientate or overwhelm participants. Third is that the event design must provide a chance to hear other perspectives; and fourth is that the design should provide appropriate structure that may facilitate positive and negative energy flows could be successfully navigated.
For Liberia, CSOs leadership effectiveness can be obtained and sustained in community development only when the process is inclusive to key stakeholders associations, individuals, professional and civic groups that represent diversity in communities.
In reality, leadership effectiveness is not a strange concept, but an empirical framework, or a practical scheme in a democratic society; especially, in poor nation like Liberia emerging from the ashes of internal destructions. Blackwell (2005) asserted that leadership effectiveness could be built in local and regional contexts to advance equitable development, and even nurture the growth of new leaders. Accordingly, this kind of fairness can be realized when people at all levels participate in the social, economic and political life of society. One may also imply that to obtain this kind of breakaway, in the context of Liberia, from its brutal past, the state, private, nonprofit and civil society should fill in the capacity gaps of each other by pursuing policies designed to advance inclusive economic and social equity among all segments of society especially in the marginalized low-income communities.
Blackwell (2005) further argued that the trend of emerging new policies in response to the lack of capacity; i.e. expertise, skilled workforce coupled with massive illiteracy, should be implemented in terms of the reality of regionalism, and cross-sectorial linkages as it focuses on the principles of fairness, and incorporating a class of people often left out of the governing process. In lieu of this theoretical model, neighborhoods or city boundaries are not sufficient for home, work, and family lives; therefore, leadership effectiveness should manifest through regionalism in order to enable communities to complement each other, and to shape positively the quality of the residents’ lives.
Meanwhile, it is noticeably observed that in order for effective leadership to enhance the standards of equity it should employ inclusive practices rooted in community building, and guided by the principles of social equity as emphasized in Blackwell (2005). Blackwell’s constructs recognize complexity, and promote strategies in favor of inclusion and safe guiding the future interest of the community undergoing renewal. So, what is termed equitable development? It is a well thought of approach, which is based on the principles of the following:
- Integration of people and places
- Reduction of local and regional disparities
- Meaningful participation
- Promotion of double-bottom-line investments that tend to benefit both the investors and community residents, few of the many policies CSOs’ leadership effectiveness strives on.
According to Blackwell (2005), this type of equitable development concept tends to benefit people on the lower level of socio-political economic ladder. The disenfranchised population may as well benefit from the local and regional economic activities by requiring affordable housing development as the centerpiece of the geographic and socio-economic fairness, which is another product of leadership effectiveness.
The effectiveness of leadership can be sustained in civil society organizations on the local, regional and on national levels only when the capacities of these organizations are developed to take on new responsibilities. With adequate capacity, CSOs tend to perpetuate themselves by expanding the scope of their focus, and nurturing the growth of new symbols of leadership. Symbols of leadership are Board members and individuals who occupy positions of authority within the organization, and responsible to oversee and steer the organization in the right direction and to enable it achieves its goals. How to develop organizational capacity, and how to perpetuate sustainable leadership effectiveness are examined below.
Performing Tasks of Effective Advocacy
Building Capacity for Advocacy
It takes certain characteristics for a non-governmental organization, or civil society organization, or community based organization to be effective at advocacy. An effective CSOs leader does not need to have strong background in the legislative process, or experience in how to deal with the media, nor have close connections with the house of power. However, what is vital to a nonprofit agency’s ability to successfully serve as an advocate is not specific programmatic skills but a very strong operational foundation in core capacity areas, such as budgeting, fundraising, marketing, technology and communications, and a leadership that is visionary and inspiring (TCC Group Report, 2009).
According to the TCC Group Study Report conducted for the California Endowment, the nonprofit organization’s adaptability, or its ability to observe, monitor, assess, and respond to internal and external changes in the area of networking, collaborating, assessing organizational effectiveness, evaluating programs and services determines what makes an effective advocacy organization (TCC Group Report, 2009).
Opportunities for the marginalized and disenfranchised groups, subsets of civil society in Liberia to influence policies that shape their constituents’ lives are difficult to attain or come by. Yet, public decisions that affect them are being developed and implemented in communities without the inputs of those who live in these communities. The lack of or absence of effective leadership capacities, and the abilities of the people themselves to help lift their communities, prove that the people do need to know how to seek a chance to contribute to public discourse in order to benefit the communities involved.
Therefore, it is not illusionary for an observer to imply that the tasks of meeting the human resource challenges and organizational inadequacies should employ some advocacy mechanics. The literature reveals four important advocacy related capacity concerns worth of considering in this research proposal. They include:
- Leadership capacity to promote the interests of others
- The organization’s ability to adapt or adjust changing conditions
- Administrative or management capacity
- Technical capacity, and/ or the organization’s ability to use professional expertise within its ranks
These points and other elements are discussed in the segments below.
Framework for Promoting Disenfranchised CSOs Constituency in Liberia
Leadership advocacy for Constituents representation
The ability of a functional civil society organizational leadership to organize efficiently available resources, including adherence to the basic tenets of good people’s capital resource management is paramount to any advocacy process. In addition, the use of excellent communication mechanics or practices should form the basis of the organization’s entire advocacy system, procedures, staff activities development, and oversight.
The quality of board leadership is important to any nonprofit agency or organization. Board members should show how engaged and committed they are to the organization’s objectives and mission for advocacy. How they conduct themselves is one of the several strategies for addressing any issue. In any case, for the board to be effective it should be actively and explicitly supportive as it engages in all tasks. Board members should also be able to nurture others for active advocacy efforts and help enhance their awareness of information about how others in their communities think about the issue of interest and its anticipated solutions (Schaffi and Geenwood, 2003; Senge and Scharmer, 2001).
Diligence in Monitoring Short and Long-term Objectives
To ensure leadership effectiveness, the board of directors should ensure understanding of its role in governance, especially as it pertains to fiduciary oversight and monitoring organizational performance in addition to seeking for and reviewing advocacy strategies and outcomes and so forth.
Needed Strategic Vision
Although each nonprofits agency has its specific goals to attain, the need for a strategic vision is not unique to marginalized civil groups. The tasks of civil organizations in Liberia entail the three functions of advocacy, engagement, and policy implementation in the form of service delivery. What is unique is the necessity for leaders to maintain clarity of the organization’s long-term goals and improve their abilities to communicate them to stakeholders in light of the enormous nature of uncertainty that surrounds advocacy according to O’Toole (1986).
In the case of Liberia, the degree of uncertainty involved in advocacy was acknowledged in the New African and Research Development Agency’s (NARDA) Report (2010) when CSOs and indigenous Non-governmental Organizations (INGOs) sued the Liberian government in a dispute over Legislation called the “Threshold Bill”. What the bill does is to apportion the population into electoral districts unevenly. Despite the fact that these organizations stride to change the legislation for what they called ‘a fair representation purposes in the national legislature’. In other words, they wanted even apportionment of the population in legislative districts, but they were not successful through the legislative process and through litigation. The government refused to meet their demand on the practical ground that the nation’s population is not evenly spread around the country. The second reason for the refusal was that some of the CSOs agencies themselves had no privies or legal standing in the case because they were not legally registered with the government as legal entities operating in the country. The court agreed with the government of Liberia, so the CSOs lost the case (NARDA, 2010). This is a typical example of the uncertain nature of advocacy in Liberia or in any nation for that matter.
Communicating the Vision
Another reality an effective CSOs leadership should not overlook in Liberia is the ability to perform the difficult tasks of aligning the necessary pieces in communicating their vision in order to erase any doubt in a way that points to the path for success. It is an art of plainly articulating the order and interplay of specific strategies, which may divert the organization from pursuing unattainable short and long-term goals. The vision should be revealed not only to the staff and the board, but also to funders, allies, and to the public according to the TCC Group Report (2009; Lombe, 2004).
Based on the TCC Group Report (2009), it is inferred that a strategic vision for any advocacy group should include several essential components. One is to adopt all feasible strategies necessary for success. First, entails the use of legislative initiatives, and use of the capacity to understand how and when to motivate various stakeholders throughout the entire process. Second, it is the use of clear and constant communication of objectives and goals. An application or use of long-term goals orientation to enable the organization make decisions that are most conducive to achieving the ultimate goal is the third essential component.
Effective leadership in developing disenfranchised CSOs can benefit from sharing of leadership duties. What this means is that while maintaining visibility as effective leaders and performing the duties required, those who will take on the challenges of leading marginalized civil groups in Liberia should remain cognizant of possible opportunities to advance the cause. At the same time, they should be willing to delegate selected leadership tasks appropriately to their subordinates. This practice will show the degree of willingness to improve their administrative effectiveness. The practice of distributed decision-making tends to unleash enthusiasm and talents of those to who work and decision-making is delegated (Mendizabal, 2006).
In the mix of many issues that demand policy-makers’ attention, the art of advancing the interest of a small group in a society requires an unwavering commitment as referenced earlier above. Consequently, leadership effectiveness for a community-based organization like disenfranchised groups is an evolving or a pragmatic process that changes in the performance of advocacy duties and in the policy implementation process as well. In essence, an adaptive group leadership tends to employ its organization’s ability to monitor, assess, and adapt to changing conditions in its internal and external environments as asserted in Pollard and Court (2005).
Usually, the adaptive process takes on specific activities that include evaluating programs and services, planning, collaborating, and strategizing. Yet, effective leadership in CSOs development utilizes tactical capacities discussed in the following segments.
Building strategic partnership
The beginning step in the building of strategic partnership is to pinpoint explicitly important instruments of change that will lead to reform. For instance, effective leadership should be able to identify the organization’s constituents, public, private, and nonprofits policy makers, researchers, media, and specific professional segments’ activities that could be recruited.
Networking and collaborating
According to Court, Hovland, and Young (2005), getting to know and working with individuals and organizations in similar and diverse sectors tends to multiply the impact or influence of any organization that does advocacy. It is a tactic, which utilizes more resources to strengthen the NGOs’ efforts in performing its multiple functions. The probable implications of such demonstrated leadership capacities reveal that the creation of networks is a leadership function of which the maintenance, monitoring, managing, and strategic use of a network is an important adaptive capacity filled with vital tools.
It is important for marginalized civil groups to understand what matters to them the most. It is expected of effective CSOs leaders to know their edge in a particular public policy area and use their strengths in lobbying, research, grassroots mobilization, and media savvy to enhance the organization’s position strategically. This is in order to make maximum contributions for success on a particular issue considering the three underpinning values below that normally enhance NGOs’ ability to position itself for success.
Constituents’ needs and resource adequacy
The literature portrays a notion that for leaders of marginalized civil groups, or disenfranchised civil society organizations to be effective, they should demonstrate awareness of their constituents’ needs, and knowledge of their partners they are engaged with in advocacy projects. This includes knowledge of how much resources each partner can contribute towards addressing the issue at hand. These resources or assets include time, knowledge, best practices, goodwill, funding strategies, relationships, and other intangible benefits such as trust and reliability (Komsweig, Osborne, Hovland, and Court, 2006).
Regular environmental assessment
Moreover, effective leaders of developing community-based organizations (CSOs) in Liberia need to monitor on regular basis new external opportunities and threats as they arise. In a sense, there is a need to incorporate interval successes and shortcomings into their evaluative plans of which the details are discussed in the following segments on evaluation according to Gurthrie, Louie, and Foster (2006).
Risk or opportunity evaluation
Literature reveals that there is no unique standard of conducting risk or opportunity evaluation. However, the TCC Group’s report (2009) assessed that a careful and methodological analysis of such matters may lead to improving the chance of CSOs making realistic and accurate decision that may lead to a more effective use of resources. For instance, filing a court case that is likely to be lost in litigation may raise visibility of the organization and of the issue, so that legislative solution can be pursued in the near future. In context, the process of developing community-based organizations may be strengthened and thereby enabling these civil groups to take on more difficult challenges of democratic governance (NARDA, 2010).
Maintaining flexible use of resources
The ability of CSOs to use available resources flexibly is an important tool of any leadership or administrative management. In the conduct of a successful advocacy campaign, or in a policy implementation process, the organization’s ability to make adjustments in allocating and reallocating resources is vital. This level of flexibility is useful in terms of using human resources, capital assets, and financial resource according to Kretzmann and McKnight (1993).
Accordingly, literature expands that an organization’s ability to shift its staff is necessary to meeting workload demand of special skills set, and several changes needed to meet different needs. Shifting of capital assets entails relocating personnel to make adjustments to grassroots efforts, or in organizing events. Ultimately, an effective CSOs leadership tends to maximize use of limited financial resources by pursuing various fundraising paths, or by diversifying their resource base instead of relying on only one source (Irvine Foundation, 2003).
The Irvine Foundation (2003) continued, another tactic is to negotiate with donors for flexible terms in using portion of donated funds for operational activities, or soliciting for unrestricted private donations to support the organization’s operation. Moreover, the final tactic could be forming close relations with funders in order to accelerate fast engagement, and flexibility in meeting set goals whenever change takes place in the operating environment.
Measuring and evaluating progress
Leadership effectiveness of community-based organization is manifested in the organization’s ability to evaluate and measure its progress on separate issues that are important to its dual functions. The reason is that an exercise of such control mechanics allows the group to learn from its mistakes and successes in order to avoid errors and improve its future performance.
Building a process for documenting, monitoring, and assessing progress, or its absence towards achieving set goals is a critical step that may help the organization avoid lingering in space (Gilchrist, 2000). In any case, it seems logical for any group to use short-term objectives because behavior changes and flexible plan for reflection is necessary as emphasized in the TCC Group Report (2009).
A contextual use of short-term objectives, referred to as metrics should be made clear in simple and direct terms so that each goal will be measured in a realistically relevant manner. In terms of pursuing the interest of others, the goal should be measured in the form of behavior change. Advocacy is about changing behaviors, and when such change occurs, leadership effectiveness takes place. For example, when a decision maker changes his or her vote in favor of the group’s position, or when citizens write letters in support, or a journalist writes an article about the issue of interest to the organization.
Mounting a flexible intern objective is a strategic tool. For instance, use of diverse tactics, different partners, and compromising on short-term objectives are elements of effective advocacy campaign upon which a measure of success can be adopted. It is a reflection of needed changes to reassure constituents and others in building their confidence in the organization’s competency. In short, non-governmental organizations including community-based groups should create space to develop a deliberate and purposeful pertinent individualized plan for self-reflection (Young, 2005).
Technical capacity for multiple functions
This aspect of effective CSOs leadership in advocacy involves the ability to implement all the key organizational and pragmatic functions in a clear manner. Located in the nucleus of a technical capacity are the required skills, tools, equipment, technologies, and other resources necessary to support and serve the roots of other essential capacities. Additional characteristics of a technical capacity include the organization’s fundraising abilities, networking skills, facilities development and maintenance, useful information gathering, marketing skills, legal knowledge and evaluation aptitude. To sum up, it is knowledge and skills along with supporting elements that do comprise the technical capacity of nonprofit agencies.
Effective leadership of marginalized civil organizations needs specific technical capacities in areas referenced below in order to perform advocacy functions in a better way.
Strategic communication skills
One of the major challenges facing marginalized civil groups, or non-governmental organizations in Liberia is the need to develop their abilities to communicate both internally and externally. Effective leaders of indigenous non-governmental organizations in this developing nation-state need to apply their skills in planning strategic communication to enable these nonprofit agencies succinctly explain their goals to different audiences. They may be challenged to design their messages to resonate. Critical elements of this aspect of capacity enhancement include media outreach and message development (TCC Group Report, 2009).
Knowledge of policy issues and processes
The multiple functions of indigenous NGOs or CSOs often seek to demand these organizations to gather information that will help elevate their knowledge of public policy issues and the process of dealing with them. An effective community based organizational leadership should first have knowledge of the policy change process, which means having an understanding of the dynamics of a policy system and how it works. Second, such leadership should have a detailed grasp of the contents of a particular issue. Third is a better understanding of the use of power, and power distribution, as well as the knowledge and experience to navigate efficiently through a wide range of political situations with mobilization skills. Fourth, it is the use of skills needed to litigate, lobby, and conduct grassroots mobilization in addition to the ability to create, analyze and interpret policy proposals, and so forth. Use of mobilization skills means applying the knowledge and experience to engage internal and external stakeholders according to Sutcliffe and Court (2006).
Marginalized civil groups leaders should also demonstrate skills in their ability to interact effectively with people of different radical perspectives. There are two sets of interpersonal skills. One is the ability to understand what motivates others and using such knowledge to persuade them to act in a desired way. Secondly is self-reflection proficiency, which means one’s own ability to recognize his or her own shortcomings and strengths and to choose better challenging tasks to perform as emphasized in Howell and Pearce (2002).
Finance and fundraising proficiency
For marginalized civil society agencies, one of the major challenges is fundraising. As such, leadership effectiveness should exhibit knowledge and skills of raising funds from different sources. An important source of fundraising is the use of general support funding that includes raising grants from private foundations, membership dues, and unrestricted donations from individual donations. In addition, the use of logistic models and valuable propositions can be productive in making the case to donors (Kendall, 2000).
Knowledge of the laws and understanding of the legal parameters within which a nonprofit can raise funds may be helpful in avoiding going over the legal bounds. Avoiding going beyond the accepted range of voracity forms part of the efficient technical capacity as advanced by the agency for justice. Details on this subject may be obtained from the website for legal information relating to nonprofit advocacy and fund raising at www.atj.org.
Facilities and equipment
It is also noted that sufficient working space along with adequate office technologies (computers, network servers, phones), and an ambient working atmosphere should support the foundation of developing working atmosphere of CSOs or NGOs. This is in order to perform and maintain an efficient advocacy, as well as in building a grassroots delivery of services to their constituents TCC Group Report (2009).
Committed and talented leaders are in short supply in local Liberian communities. Community-based organizations (CBOs) or civil society organizations (CSOs) need resources and opportunities to develop the leadership skills of their members, and to become effective in guiding the efforts for change. Obviously, the new symbols of leadership need access to policy makers and the places where policies are made. The need for a chance to use their newly acquired skills, and access to gain experience in order to successfully negotiate at the policy making table is a mystery that deserves resolution. Details about the population of interest literacy demography can be obtained from the website http://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/li.html.
Leadership effectiveness and the development of strategic policies for change make sense to encourage, promote, and enhance the development of new contingency of leaders that reflects cultural and tribal diversity, and the interconnectedness of societal ills. The figure below shows the diversity of the Liberian population. Therefore, potential leaders should be able to collaborate across boundaries, tribal lines and regionally as well. The new leaders must also possess knowledge of multi-ethnics and multi-cultural views, and the ability to work across sectors.
|Figure 2. Ethnic groups percentages of total population: 3,786.764|
|Kpelle 20.3 % of total population|
|Bassa 13.4 % of total population|
|Grebo 10% of total population|
|Grebo 10% of total population|
|Gio 8% of total population|
|Mano 7.9% of total population|
|Kpelle 20.3 % of total population|
|Kru 6% of total population|
|Lorma 5.1% of total population|
|Kissi 4.8% of total population|
|Gola 4.4% of total population|
|Other 20.1% (2008 census) of total population|
Leadership effectiveness in Liberia ought to recognize the new reality reflective of the nations’ sectional and tribal, or disputes in the past. Therefore, leadership development programs should recruit candidates or associates across regions and tribal backgrounds, while they incorporate leadership training, organizational capacity building, and constituency development concepts. It appears goal-oriented and place-based policy programs tend to enable civil society participants to develop skills and tools needed for effective engagement.
Gaventa (2004) identified new forms of participatory governance based on innovative strategies and legal frameworks for strengthening citizens’ engagement. It also suggested some ideas that could be used in deliberative and participatory governance in developed and developing nations.
Past studies reveal the existing gaps that developed in nations between ordinary citizens and institutions that affect their lives. In contrast, other studies identified diverging trends in developing nations, in particular, how poor people view their governments. For example, the World Bank’s study of the “voices of the poor” around the world found that many poor people view government institutions to be distant, unaccountable, and corrupt (Gaventa, 2004). “The article continued, in another study by the “Commonwealth Foundation” and noted a growing disillusionment of citizens with their government based on the concern with corruption, lack of responsiveness to the needs of the poor, and disconnection from the lives of ordinary citizens” (Gaventa, 2004).
In a poor country like Liberia, democratic deficit is widely recognized. There is no disagreement on how to respond, but the lack of structural capacity and human expertise along with limited financial resources undermine attention being given to strengthening the process of citizen participation. How ordinary citizens advance their opinions about issues through new forms of inclusion-consultation and mobilization, which tends to inform and influence large institutions and policies in strengthening accountability and responsiveness of citizens and institutions through changes.
In search of the kind of leadership effectiveness as shown in civil society’s ability to display strengths and accountability in the institutions and places in Liberia, the discussion is likely to shift from government to governance focusing on the forms of inclusion among the public, civil society, and the private sector. With this level of effective leadership according to Cornwall and Gaventa (2006), citizens may not only be seen as users of public services derived from policies made by others in a process where participation means more than consultation, but shared responsibilities for decision making in establishing policies and allocating resources takes center stage. It appears there is consensus about the need for more active and engaged citizenry, which is responsive and effective. It can also deliver public services in both north and south.
Applying such consensus means a departure from, or going beyond a notion of the citizens being seen as consumers as advocated in the 1980s and 1990s to engage in policymaking and in implementation services. As such, an understanding goes beyond consultation to a deeper and a more empowered form of engagement that may contribute to erasing the democratic deficit through better governance that meets developmental goals and improved community service delivery (Goetz and Gaventa, 2001).
As mentioned earlier, leadership effectiveness is important to participatory governance that may work on the national level but may not work on the local level. That type of progress might depend on the local or regional context as emphasized in Fung and Wright (2001-3) on the premise that implementation of policies, or laws varies vastly considering interplay with other factors. These factors include the existing level of trust between the government and citizens on the local level, the strength, and experience of civil society, the support of political parties and social actors, and the level of openness and transparency in the government.
The search for leadership effectiveness for civil society organizations in Liberia runs counter to the usual political culture that was in existence over 160 years. Any change strategy therefore must adopt new attitudes, new kind of trust, new collaborations, new skills, and capacities, as well as new means of leadership and power sharing all of which take time to develop according to Gaventa (2004).
In Liberia, the need for a particular nature of leadership effectiveness cannot underestimate the values of social and human capital knowing that they are interdependent tiers of society in meeting new challenges. With this knowledge, people may be willing to make the appropriate adjustments necessary to making changes that may affect social, economic, and political improvements in their communities and cultures. Such changes may present challenges and opportunities that require the presence of quality leaders on all levels of society in order to ensure better transition from the past and into the future.
The quality of leadership needed is one that will provide a way for people to connect with and serve their communities, institutions, and organizations. In this kind of environment, the symbol of leadership should be capable of marshaling resources, and motivating the followers to solve problems in their communities. The need for successful leaders capable of empowering their followers of diverse socio-economic, cultural, and religious backgrounds aimed at improving the quality of their lives can never be overstated (Foster, 2000).
Human capital values
Leadership effectiveness utilizes human capital as a valuable asset in civil society organizations including community based groups for their performance and sustainability. Therefore, effective leadership often develops the skills of group members including the youths in order to meet future challenges. In addition to personal attributes, knowledge and skills, future leaders should possess the social capital needed to ensure effectiveness in the new knowledge-based multicultural society. Like their predecessors and current ones, future civil leaders should possess the knowledge and skills derived from technology and globalization, and a deep sense of mission, and the passion guided by strong moral, ethical, and spiritual values along with the sense of self-awareness, humility, courage, and humor (Putnam, 2000; Putnam, 1995).
Added to the qualities discussed above, future leaders should also have the confidence, self-awareness, excellent management skills, and the ability to complement their strengths by building collaborations, alliances, and partnerships to have things done smoothly. These elements are critical to leadership effectiveness because healthy working relations help build a base of diverse constituencies of stakeholders. Of course, new leaders must have global perspectives as assets and the willingness to embrace diversity and cultural differences (Foster, 2000).
Developing future leaders
With the understanding that leadership can be taught (Foster, 2000) informed that leadership skills can be encouraged and developed among the youths through extra programs and mentoring. For instance, Foster (2000) suggested that the Kellogg Foundation offers these ideas:
- The development activities and programs of the future leadership should evolve in context, which means they must address the question of leadership for what?
- Leadership development activities should be formed within the cultural, historical and social context, and the needs of the community, region and nation it serves, and
- Leadership development activities should reflect a clear view and philosophy of leadership, and a set of expected goals, means of evaluation, and a vision for sustaining development efforts overtime (Foster, 2000, p.92).
Effective leadership often employs useful skills in developing social capital that is vital to maintaining diverse collaboration and internal adhesion. It seems important in determining a community’s, or an organization’s ability to advance the well-being of residents and members. The symbol of leadership often maintains an awareness that organizations and communities differ in the manner residents engage in civil affairs, or participate in organized groups, volunteer and contribute to charitable causes including trust among them.
Putnam (1995) observed that communities with high level of social capital have better physical and mental health, stronger economies and efficient systems of educating and caring for their youths because a sense of common purpose exists among residents. He added, although monetary wealth and income inequalities are important social capitals in a community or organization. It is an independent factor that identifies, which organization and/ or community is doing better or not. In essence, one of the roles of leadership effectiveness is fostering development and enhancement of organizational social capital.
According to Putnam (2000), achieving major increase in social capital requires fundamental shift in the community inhabitants’ attitudes, behaviors, structures, norms, and culture. It is the kind of shift that can occur only when influential actors take bold and deliberate steps that address the community’s weaknesses and at the same time taking advantage of available resources. According to Easterling (2009), effective organizational leadership must answer two important questions. One, what sort of strategies is effective in producing organization-wide increase of social capital. The second concerns on who is in the best position to play a leadership role? In effect, when these questions are answered through the presence of leadership effectiveness, marginalized civil groups tend to benefit from the generosity of charitable donors.
Leadership effectiveness in civil society organizations is not limited to strengthening the inputs of marginalized groups in the making of public policies that affect their constituents. It also entails among many tasks:
- Improving the common goods of the larger community while promoting the narrow interest of a specific constituency
- Possessing important knowledge about the community superficially and deeply of different organizations that are in positions to help solve present problems, and the underlying political and inter-organizational dynamics that may either slow or facilitate efforts to improve the community.
- Developing credibility among donors, nonprofit agencies, neighborhood groups, business, and community leaders
A combination of assets including missions, knowledge, and credibility in leadership effectiveness improves the chance of CBOs, CSOs, and NGOs to mobilize local residents and leaders around a change agenda whether contentious or not. How to build the social capital of an organization or community is a topic for another discussion. However, the literature reveals that building social capital is a high advantage asset, by which civil society organizations and communities can exercise effective leadership.
Holding workshops and refresher sessions may broaden the knowledge of stakeholders concerning the importance of effective leadership to civil society agencies. It means facilitating comprehension of the nature of interconnectedness of social interests as argued in modern literature of non-governmental organizations as vital to democracy. Further, proponents of similar constructs believe that civil organizations tend to build social capital, trust, and shared values that are transferrable into the political arena, and that they help hold society together (Bevis, 2004; Leonard et al, 1994).
Leadership effectiveness is essential on different levels of organization. For instance, in grassroots civil society organizations (GCSOs) including associations in rural and urban communities, it tends to have informal hierarchical structure. These entities need this kind of guidance as they directly work with local authorities and other community based groups in fostering their constituents’ interests. Organizations on the national level do have formal structures because they do receive funding from different sources they must account for, and deal with issues that generally affect citizens of a particular country. Such structure is ideally vital in multicultural environment sometimes referred to as transnational civil society composed of international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), social movements and advocacy networks, and multinational development corporations that learned how to solve transnational problems (Brown & Timner, 2006; Jorgensen, 1996).
In a developing nation like Liberia, civil society needs access to leadership effectiveness to provide the required public services that may improve their constituents’ living conditions. In an era of bridge building across nations, regions and communities, it is necessary that organizations do have knowledge of quality leaders considering the nature of their diverse membership. These individuals should display the capacity to position their organizations to deal with complex issues, and do the work of translating the noble words-unity, opportunity, inclusion, and diversity into actions that may lead to greater equity (Eng, 2009).
Eng (2009) also attempted answering three main questions about the essence of diversity in action. First, how will the language, “we’re all in this together”, and “diversity” actually improve people’s lives by demonstrating that inclusivity does have value? Second, how do leaders create organizations or communities where all constituents’ views are counted leading to policies that offer greater opportunity? Third, how can leading institutions be held accountable for measurable results showing that investment in diversity and inclusion tend to yield more than warm feelings and soft returns? In his response to these questions, he noted that one of the important skill sets that may determine success or the future of diversity commitment is the skill set of culturally fluent leadership. In addition to this, to be a culturally fluent leader, an individual or organization must possess the skills and methods that allow one to understand as well as be understood across apparent borders.
Algernon and McGill (2007) identified several border types that exist in context. For instance, they do exist between individual backgrounds and perspectives, between organizational culture and practices, and between professional disciplines. They concluded that all of these borders have the potential of dividing a community or organizations through individual presumptions.
The skill of cultural fluency has the ability to help leaders of organizations develop means that transcend barriers leading to adopting programs that breed more creative problem solving and responsive policy design. Eng (2009) observed that the qualities of effective leaders are modeled in understanding the value of nuance. These leaders are outcome driven and do readily deal with complexity knowing that providing solutions to real problems requires several levels of information and analysis from many sources. Moreover, they tend to be bridge builders who do not confine themselves to their comfortable settings among like-minded people.
Quality leadership steers organization in a direction of creating new methods of encouraging and measuring success in solving cross-cultural multi issues of social justice in nature. It also fuels changes in policies, cultural practices, and norms that positively affect the entire membership. It enhances an organization’s visibility, loyalty of its members and thus, persuasively influences organizational dynamics. The presence of these attributes in an integrated process, where fundraising, communications and development programs are aligned and focused on strengthening connections and leveraging organization’s value is a paramount task (Eng, 2009).
Leadership effectiveness is vital to meta-governance, a system in which a number of stakeholders contribute to the making of public policies. As democracy gains its footing in Liberia, this kind of collaborative leadership becomes an indispensible asset. It tends to be the tool needed when it comes to targeting matters related to the conditions of people in local communities, which could either be in the rural and urban areas. The creation of community involvement leading to broad citizens’ participation seems vital to improving understanding of local problems, identifying sound solutions, securing support and legitimacy, and a common desire for improvement (Haus & Klausen, 2010).
Moreover, leadership effectiveness as a framework should be sustained for future organizational progress. However, it is always at risk in the early stages of existence due to lack of widespread support on the premise that, area-based change initiatives are complex, and often meet severe challenges in mobilizing and retaining political support. Also, obtaining funding and coordinating efforts of several nonprofit agencies, and public actors in the stride to go forward, appear difficult sometimes.
This new form of leadership and community participation co-influence different approaches to solving problems including mobilizing modern public policy making in local setting. Meta-governance is related to bringing together conceptual, institutional, and empirical aspects reflective of the capacity for achieving complementarity between political leadership and civil society participation in various contexts (Haus & Klausen, 2010).
In a system of meta-governance, complementarity is a product of leadership effectiveness in an atmosphere where skilled actors in the civil society combine their efforts with that of public actors in order to attain development goals. In most of the cases, they are referred to as community involvement. For the purpose of the study, it means nonprofit groups, local associations, and social movements engaged in joint projects to solve community problems.
Moreover, Kooiman (2002) suggested that governance, or the governing process can be conceptualized in a sequence of “governing orders” in an approach where activities in one order are informed and structured by the use of preceding orders. It is synonymously termed as meta-governance, which means a process of general policy discourse in a society that demands, legitimizes, or criticizes state contributions, private contributions, civil society, and individuals’ contributions for the common collective good of society. In turn, this kind of discourse forms the basis for the formation and redesign of legislation, formal procedures, and other structural elements noted as “second order” governing (Kooiman, 2002).
Meanwhile, “first order” governing is the enactment of a system using its institutions and following procedure in creating opportunities for solving real problems Kooiman (2002) continued. In empirical terms, implication of this process takes place when community actors participate in policy discourse, and in restructuring the process by forming networks and developing formal and informal groups, whose activities may not be consensual but productive through leadership effectiveness according to Jossep (2000).
The presence of leadership effectiveness in civil organizations and communities is realized from the use of strategies that improve social capital creation in civil society setting and beyond. Adopting these strategic moves ranges from offering small responsive grants for locally unique projects to offering productive initiatives to stimulate change in the local culture (Sweeting & Getimis, 2006). One of the goals of adopting grant making strategic approach is to identify the potentials of leadership effectiveness in local organizations and support them in fulfilling their commitment to carrying out projects. Another goal is to promote social capital enhancement by nurturing civil engagement, volunteerism, philanthropy, expanding local leadership, and bringing people of diverse backgrounds together (Procacci & Rossignolo, 2006; Rhodes, 1997).
Of course, leadership effectiveness in communities and civil groups encourages individual actors and groups that try to build social capital in their spheres. According to Haus, Heinelt and Stewart (2005), organization and community awards strategy tends to inspire potential recipients like individuals and groups’ sense of belongingness, in addition to ultimately boosting their desires to pursue higher goals. This kind of quality leadership often makes use of opportunities to develop the capacities of individuals and civil groups. It also initiates offering skills training, coaching and workshops to enable these groups to carry out the difficult tasks vital to nurturing trust in civil engagement. These approaches can be augmented by raising the need for social capital in communities and organizations, and on their daily agendas through convening problem solving workshops (Easterling, 2008).
A reflective observation is that leadership effectiveness is essential to disenfranchised civil groups in particular and civil society in general as it is analytically discussed in the literature. Maintaining focus on the ultimate purpose of the discourse makes sense, and it is logical to reiterate that knowledgeable and committed leadership facilitate social development of which a basic requirement is strong desire to improve living conditions in a society. To attain such desired conditions, Alexander and Kumaran (1991) asserted that three essential requirements should be met. They include motivation for achieving improved well-being, knowledge for practicing a particular pattern of living, and the availability of resources necessary to living in congruence with the motivation and knowledge possessed.
The literature concerted that visionary leadership along with the capacity to pursue organization’s mission is vital to civil society agencies, and is referred to as leadership effectiveness. This chapter analyzes the constructs of leadership effectiveness as the nature of empirical resonance evident by tangible realities or results in a mechanism through which organizations fulfilled their missions, build their capacities, and improved their future prospects.
As mentioned above, the presence of leadership effectiveness is noticed in group’s problem solving mechanics. It is at a time the symbol of leadership performs specific roles to enhance the process. According to students of this subject, few of the symbol’s roles include:
- Making sure that the specific purpose of each gathering is clear, as well as, the scope and dimension of the group’s right to act
- Making sure that the participants know the procedures of the process and goal-oriented
- Stimulating critical thinking and promoting teamwork and cooperation (Goetz and Gaventa, 2001; Narayan, Chambers, Shah, and Petesch, 2000).
Galanes, (1993) also found that leadership effectiveness is essential to CSOs and communities. Its presence enables interpersonal influence exercised through viable communications towards achieving the group’s goals. Often the symbols of leadership are appointed or elected to positions. In certain cases, emergent symbols of leadership are informal individuals influential due to their behaviors or usefulness to the group. However, the abilities of the symbols (leaders) of leadership, and the group members to influence the direction of the group derive from five sources including reward, punishment, legitimacy, expertise, and referent favor.
The literature also reveals that any chance of attaining success in building and leading sustainable civil organization depends on the effectiveness of the leadership in place. This analogy also applies to the private and public sectors as well. For civil society agencies, the leadership should be strong with clear vision and open communication. The ability to recognize that each society is made up of social systems with divergent needs of various stakeholders is a valuable quality of an effective leadership. Callaghan and Colton, 2007) concluded that for any organization leadership to be successful, it must demonstrate a higher level of conviction and the willingness to make tough decisions critical. This is done to improve the entity’s capacity to perform advocacy duties and complementary functions, such as participating in policy formations and implementations in the communities in order to ensure the constituents’ better living conditions.
Thorough examination of a working atmosphere should support the foundation of a developing, or a strong NGO or CSO in order to perform and mount an efficient advocacy, and building a grassroots for social change, and delivery of social services to their constituents. So far, enough is discussed about marginalized or CSOs ability to advocate for the interests of their constituents under effective leadership. Henceforth, the focus has been shifted to discussing civil society agencies’ capacity to conduct a successful policy engagement.
Civil Society Policy Engagement
Leaders of marginalized civil organizations should be aware of a number of opportunities and constraints involved in policy formation according to Court, Mendizabal, Osborne, and Young (2006). Considering the purpose of the study, which is to pinpoint the impacts of leadership effectiveness for marginalized civil organizations and disenfranchised community based groups to influence public policy making in Liberia. The next segments examine opportunities and constraints available to CSOs. The discussion covers how to influence the policy making process, and how to deal with the constraints or barriers they must encounter in the participatory arena.
Several studies have been conducted to determine the different ways of improving leadership effectiveness in most African nations where ineffective leadership is very rampant. Among them, is a study’s report conducted for the Oversees Development Institute (ODI), the United Kingdom’s leading independent think tank on international development and humanitarian issues, titled, Policy Engagement: How civil society can be more effective, Court, Mendizabal, Osborne and Young (2006). The report of the study emphasized that the goal of their study is to improve the capacity of civil society organizations in developing countries such as Liberia to be able to influence pro-poor policies. This report and others of different studies carried out is available at www.odi.org.uk/rapid.
It seems there is a unique congruence of ODI’s study purpose and the purpose of the study being proposed. Therefore, for community-based organizations, indigenous nongovernmental organizations and any other CSO agency, the presence of effective leadership in their structure means they stand a chance to use their knowledge on policymaking processes. In addition to this, they adopt useful communication strategy and employ use of their staff expertise that may ultimately lead to the alleviation of suffering and achievement of sustainable livelihood in a developing like Liberia as emphasized in ODI’s report (2006).
The civil society in general and in specific should be able to use their experiences, knowledge, skills, and information referred to as efficient evidence in the stride to attain policy influence. According to the report, the organization’s focus should be on a particular kind of evidence that informs policy and practice in development. Of course, the understanding is that better use of evidence in policy and practice usually enhances policy makers’ ability to identify problems, understand their root causes, and then develop policy decisions. Other benefits obtained by the policy makers with regard to adoption and better use of the policy are an improvement in policy implementation and the ability to monitor strategic applications and performance. This is a clear portrayal of an adoption of useful evidence that leads to improved policymaking practice. This practice in turn saves lives and reduces poverty in most developing countries such as Liberia.
Understanding Policy Processes and Exerting Influence
As mentioned above, effective leaders of CSO agency in Liberia has to demonstrate comprehension of the policy making processes before it may be able to exert influence on the product according to Court et al (2006). To erase any doubt in the regard, it important to restate what a policy means. Policy by definition is therefore, a purpose oriented course of action associated with an actor or actors that goes beyond a document or legislative activities. It normally involves changing the behaviors of the main policy makers.
Components of Policy Process
Court et al (2006) identified the following components of the policy process. They include agenda setting, policy formation, decision-making, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation. Literature further added that these components of the policymaking process are core elements of the relationship between CSOs and policy makers in the public sector as it is proposed by the study’s focus.
Policy influence reflects or depicts how external actors are able to interact with the policy process and affect the nature of the policy positions, approaches, and behaviors in each area. The reality in developing nations like Liberia is that the processes tend to be informal. However, it is vital for CBOs that are still striving to influence public policy to have clear understanding of the institutions and actors in the policy processes. This based on both formal and informal levels to facilitate the correct use of evidence and communication approaches needed to uplift the chance of influencing policy.
How evidence matters and why
From the literature, it is evident that there is need for better information, experiences, knowledge, and expertise in CSOs policy engagement. This segment synthesizes how these assets can be employed. It goes further to explain the connections between civil society agencies, evidence, and policy influence tactics. Court et al (2006) stressed that the basic premise in policy engagement is based on three elements. These three elements are as follows:
- Better outcomes or results derived from better policy and practice
- Better policy and practice take place when rigorous, systematic evidence is used in policy design
- CSOs that use better evidence may have greater policy influence and as a result leading to a greater pro-poor impact. In essence, policies of such nature tend to improve the assets and capabilities of the poor.
As a goal of CSOs leadership effectiveness in Liberia, the strive should be about changing policies that promote broad based economic growth, improved basic services, and provide safety nets through promoting and enabling political and policy environment. This will in turn ensure that the voices of the marginalized population are heard in policy discussion.
Additionally, efficient CSOs leadership is able to realize pro-poor impacts of policy through two main channels. The first is a better use of evidence as mentioned earlier. This is because of the mare fact that, it tends to lead to creating better programs that may in turn produce greater benefits to CSOs service delivery. Use of reliable evidence for instance to help community groups understand their problems clearly, design better interventions, make practice more effective and monitoring results easier also ensures a better sharing of their experiences with others.
Moreover, increased knowledge of what works, why and how it can help CSOs improve the benefits of their interventions in the lives of the poor masses is another reason. The second channel is essential for attaining pro-poor benefits from policies when civil groups are informed in the engagement with government policy processes. In context, they may be able to identify new problems, develop new or better strategies, and make government’s policy implementation more effective.
The Importance of Evidence
As mentioned above, evidence is important to civil society agency’s desire to mount policy influence effort. One of the main reasons is the use of better evidence, which often enhances CSOs legitimacy that highly matters for policy influence. There are several sources of CSOs legitimacy (Court et al, 2006). Some of these sources include political connection with political parties and top policy makers, legal legitimacy, which is reflective of the organization’s record of legal successes in litigations. Also, the organization’s technical knowledge or know-how of issues interesting, including its moral capability in representing its constituents on the premise that the size and views of their membership can give weight to a policy discussion or argument (Court et al, 2006).
Moreover, the quality of evidence applied tends to improve CSOs ability to address concerns about the effectiveness of engagement in policy processes. Therefore, in order to use evidence that may generate pro-poor policy, CSOs should perform the following tricks.
- Identify the political opportunities and constraints and develop a political strategy for engagement
- Inspire or raise new ideas, or question old ones, and create new ways of framing the issue, or policy discussion approach
- Inform the views of others, share expertise, experience and advance new approaches
- Improve or add correct or change policy issue, and hold decision makers accountable to evaluate and improve their own activities according to Court, Hovland, and Young (2005).
Furthermore, at the agenda-setting phase, evidence is a crucial factor as it is used to help put an issue on the agenda and ensures that the issue or issues are recognized as important problems that require the policy makers’ response. At this stage, CSOs inputs can be more influential when it provides options and realistic solutions. Better use of evidence is paramount to influencing public opinions, cultural norms, and political contests. This is because it indirectly affects the policy processes (Court et al, 2006).
At the policy formulation phase, evidence can be used as an important tool in establishing the credibility of CSOs. Consequently, effective leadership of marginalized civil organization can adopt a strategy of using evidence that may allow the organization to maintain its credibility with the local communities, and with policy makers combining their tacit and explicit knowledge of a policy issue. This includes the evidences of their political positions, and their competence to improve their chance of being included in the policy formulation discussions (Pollard and Court, 2005).
Meanwhile, at the implementation stage, evidence tends to of help to the CSOs since it assists in the translation of technical skills, expert knowledge, and practical experience thus making them inform others better. Popular view of NGOs is that they are successful innovators in service delivery and thereby strengthen broad public sector policy implementation. Of course, experts of this subject inform that the key to influencing policy implementation is the NGOs’ ability to provide realistically generalizable solutions in different contexts (Court and Maxwell, 2005).
How civil society can be more effective in policy engagement in Liberia depends on the political environment of the nation itself. In the recent past, the atmosphere for civil society operation in Liberia has been improving. This has in turn led to an increase in the number of CSOs and at the same time, the nature of their operation is changing as they show more interest in policy engagement and move beyond service delivery. The main areas of CSOs work concentration include governance to improve the livelihood of marginalized population in urban and rural settings using the tools of education, healthcare, gender, and economic policy issues. In short, upon the premise of effective leadership strategies, indigenous non-governmental organizations, and community based civil groups can use approved different approaches in the quest to influence public policies for the better.
However, based on the literature and a number of case studies that have been conducted, it is not surprising that civil society organizations have little or no influence in the policy making process in Liberia. The same case applies to the lives of the marginalized or disenfranchised poor population despite the fact that the presumed amicable and accessible policy atmosphere in the country. According to Court, Osborne, Mendizabal and Young (2006), several factors including CSOs own capacities or lack thereof contribute to the current difficulties or barriers in context. Some of the main obstacles facing CSOs engagement in policy processes include:
- CSOs staff’s lack of sufficient capacity
- CSOs lack of adequate funding
- CSOs lack of sufficient knowledge about the policy processes
- Policy processes are not open to CSOs engagement
- Policy makers do not see CSOs evidence as credible
- Policy makers tend to be corrupt and do not lack openness
- CSOs staff do not have enough time
- Policy makers lack experience and capacity in using evidence properly, and
- CSOs lack of general capacity.
Another important issue of concern is dealing with obstacles in using research and evidence to influence policy. In a sense, policy makers are not used to drawing on research and evidence. They often have limited time and capacity to adopt evidence in policy processes. In addition, CSOs have limited capacity to adopt research results. The reality is that there is insufficient research capacity in Liberia in addition to CSOs staff having little or no time to read research reports.
Understanding the policy processes
Leadership effectiveness of marginalized civil organization in policy engagement means there is a demonstrated capacity and knowledge of elements in the policy processes that constrain CSOs ability to influence public policy. Hence, to facilitate increase in influence on policy the processes, CSOs need to understand how to adopt strategic approaches of engagement. The literature teaches that the policy process is one of the best ways they can provide advice to the right people in the right manner at the right time.
Moreover, inadequate use of evidence by civil society organizations does not portray their possession of a large capacity of knowledge including expertise in issue areas, or understanding of the concerns of their constituents. The reality is that when evidence is used correctly, CSOs stand to gain greater access to policy processes since policy decisions are based on informed relevant evidence. In a different angle, CSOs tend to rely on soft evidence, which are case studies and antidotal stories among others. These are listed low in the hierarchy, but have more focus on problems rather than solutions resulting in CSOs proposal being ignored in the decision making process according to Sutcliff and Court (2006). In short, CSOs need to recognize that one key point in influencing in Liberia is to build a high quality form of evidence that is acceptable in different instances considering the fact that policy makers tend to doubt the feasibility and practicality of CSOs proposals.
Poor or efficient communication
Effective CSOs leadership should be in direct contact with policy makers. The literature reveals that many nongovernmental agencies use their valuable time and efforts in indirect low impact policy influence activities. Better communication is one of the challenges to CSOs policy influence. The point is effective CSOs leaders need to resolve this challenge by packaging and targeting generated evidence to key audiences and policy makers through use of clear and concise messages. That does not simply mean increasing the volume of communication products, but it means establishing CSOs credibility, and a chance to participate in policy debates, which is a privilege that can easily be undermined if information CSOs communicate is incorrect.
There is a different concern, which is that CSOs often at times fail to understand the time constraints and schedule demands for the policy makers to operate. Therefore, it is vital for nonprofits leaders to communicate in a better way if they have to gain any chance in influencing and informing policy.
Internal communication and coordination
The ability of CSOs leaders to stay in close touch with their staff and coordinate their activities in an efficient manner is vital in the policy engagement processes. That involves all the internal units of the organization including the research, policy units and marketing departments. As a result, it is a valuable teaching, which leaders of civil society agencies should seek in order to make major improvements in their communication strategies and practices. This is in turn will lead to a better influence of public policies in Liberia. All of the aforementioned factors can be fruitful depending on the CSOs technical skills and expertise, as well as its financial capability under effective leadership.
Building CSOs capacity
In most research findings, the importance of capacity to non-governmental agencies has been referenced. Consequently, in order for the CSOs to conduct effective policy influence, they should meet the need to understand each policy process in its specific context, generate high quality relevant research, and have access to policy makers. In addition to this, they should have proper links to communicate with them and other policy actors and stakeholders. All these require a wide range of technical capacities according to Perkin and Court (2005).
In addition, the literature reveals that CSOs equally need staff and institutional trainings. These trainings have to be followed by meeting the need for access to the most recent thinking or teachings on policy influence, as well as support for more research on policy issues. Moreover, it is noted that capacity building should be broad-based on a locally directed agenda. It should also be built on existing capacity because it requires ongoing learning and flexible adaption. It is a long-term investment, which needs integrated activities at different levels to address the complex problems in a systematic capacity building process. For the purpose of the proposed study, discussion of policy engagement is exhausted at this point. Therefore, the next segments examine policy implementation schemes.
Civil Society Agencies and Public Policy Implementation
Many at times, stakeholders of public Policy implementation see to it that the nonprofit organizations voluntarily provide charitable services to needy people in local areas and find nothing about it. By just accepting volunteer entity’s kindness towards marginalized people in a society alone as a tier of public policy implementation mechanism is not enough. Therefore, students of this subject conducted studies of the dynamics of policy implementation and found that the process involves major challenges that must be addressed. For the purpose of the study being proposed, most of the challenges will not be discussed. However, one of these challenges is briefly examined in this segment. The challenge is about the nature of the relations between public agencies and the nonprofit sector, or civil society organizations in the stride to implement efficiently public policies to better improve the lives of the target population.
The nature of the nonprofit sector’s policy implementation activities epitomizes the themes of voluntarism, and it devoid any desire for power but centers only around providing services to the needy people in society. Agencies of the nonprofit sector now referred to as civil society played significant role in public policy implementation in the past century. Equally, in the recent decades, central governments around the world are beginning to improve seriously the framework of the nonprofit sector’s willingness to implement policies in a more formal fashion.
A critical look at how nonprofit agencies stand in as voluntary social policy implementing partners with community segments and government agencies reflects on the capacities of these civil society agencies involved, involving other key issues pertaining to the dynamics thereof. According to Elson (2006), the construct of the agreements is neither legislative nor regulatory. Yet, the historical views of the relationship is that central governments around the world have adopted the practice of reaching bilateral policy implementation agreements with a collective number of voluntary CSOs simply to advance policy implementation practices.
Accordingly, Elson (2006) it was revealed that the most recent of such bilateral undertakings is the signing of agreements between governments and civil society agencies of which the nature and scopes of are quite different from regulatory or legislative measures. Examples of such understanding are the United Kingdom‘s (UK) Compact of 1998 and the Government of Canada’s agreement of 2001. The records show that the agreement between the Canadian Government and the civil society sector. In addition to this, the UK Government and the Nonprofit Sector were reached in a framework of shared vision, values, general principles, and mutual commitment to building a positive relationship, and pursuing common purposes and goals (Elson, 2006). The remaining doubt at presence is as to whether the government of Liberia as any other developing nations, will strengthen its gouts to reach formal agreement with the nonprofit sector.
Accordingly, (Government of Canada, 2001), (Straw and Stowe, 1998) were designed to strengthen the relationship between the public sector and the nonprofit sector because of the following reasons:
- They encourage better partnering policies
- They insist on better treatment of CSOs throughout the entire government
- They promote better understanding of the constraints, operational standards, and practices of each other.
These agreements are labeled “intention setters” that clarify the intended nature of the working relations between agencies and actors of both sectors (K.L. Brock, 2004; Morison, 2000).
Several policy implementation researchers have studied the UK Compact (1998) and the Canadian Accord (2001) using the insightful drawings on the dynamics of issues, politics as well as all policies of the voluntary scheme of the nonprofit or civil society as emphasized in Kingdom (1995). For example, students of policy implementation including (K.L. Brock, 2004; Carrington, 2002; Good, 2003; Craig et al., 2005) and many others, conducted process-focused studies to identify the real implications of the agreements mentioned earlier in this segment.
Considering the fact that there is a need for effective leadership for civil society organizations in Liberia, public policy implementation is another added major task that CSOs should prepare themselves to perform efficiently in order to ensure their success. Because the interest of the CSOs’ is not to acquire power and make profits, their purposes remain to improve the lives of their constituents. This will be achieved by strengthening their interests through advocacy, making valuable contributions to the decision making processes through policy engagement, and by doing social services delivery as sanctioned by the public sector, the private sector, foundations, and the nonprofit itself by way of policy implementation.
Moreover, for civil society agencies in the developing nation of Liberia to perform the task of implementing social policies that is very large in view of the scarcity of resources on all levels of national institutions, the issues or variables that guide policy implementation should be addressed. On this basis, Indigenous Nongovernmental Organizations (INGOs) in marginalized groups should improve the quality and quantity of their resources, as well as broadening their capacities under effective leadership. This is done so that they may be able to serve adequately their constituents residing in urban, suburban, rural areas and villages in the country. Although the reality is that policy implementation process is a ‘top-down’ exercise often influenced by implementers or bureaucrats, in the recent decades a ‘bottom-up’ approach that utilizes low level or street level staff has been placed in positions to serve as implementers in a collaborative process that captures the interplay of competing interests as discussed in Mazmanian and Sabatier (1989a). These variables or policy implementation related issues are discussed below.
The material variables or issues reflect the core intention of the main policy. Small or policy changes that are well defined are in a better position to politically support, and tend to have a greater chance to succeed. Yet, big and complex changes required less focused regulations that allow implementers a much greater discretion. For marginalized civil organizations in Liberia, the leadership and the entire organizational capacity are needed to facilitate use of discretion in the policy implementation processes. This is because they may also be required to deal with diverse behavior in a highly “top-down” government agency.
It is also vital to note that the hierarchical nature of any organization tends to influence policy implementation. In the case of marginalized civil groups in Liberia, effective leadership is needed to enhance the organizations’ abilities to comprehend related structural variables or issues that often influence policy implementation. These variables include:
- Having a clear and consistent objective
- Including very adequate constructs of the causes of the problem(s
- Bringing together the supporting powers of all levels within agencies and among policy implementing entities
- Using the decision rules of implementing agencies
- Recruiting implementing agencies’ hiring of private contractors
- Outsiders’ access to the process
- The initial allocation of financial resources” (Mazmanian and Sabatier, 1983).
Bringing together all levels of powerful agencies and institutions in support of policy implementation entities is very critical. This is because it reflects the institutional support as well as reflecting on the leadership commitment of the officials who implement it in the stake-holding sectors. This happens as they as they lay over on the conflicting priorities which have mandates that are emergent across various agencies.
The contextual variables or issues usually refers to the legislators’ support of a policy implementation process in a form of regulating the nature and degree of oversight, that availability of financial resources, and use of new or conflicting policy. However, a key concern is about leaders who are recruited to work with implementing entities/agencies. The need for effective leaders for civil organizations involved in policy implementation is still being addressed below. The point is marginalized civil group leaders should possess adequate managerial and political skills. They must also be committed to the overall policy goals. As a team of policy fixers, they should ensure that the policy meets their constituents’ needs, and is fully implemented (Phillips, 2005a).
Changes in the sociopolitical dynamics, socio economic realms, and in the cultural arena brought about new challenges in several forms that demand the ingenuity of any democratic governance to deal with it in order to attain success. Equally, civil society agencies must contribute an optimal share of their knowledge, skills, and expertise in solving social problems(s) in the new Liberia. As such and regardless of each civil group’s specialization, they must actively participate in governance as agents of social cohesion, disseminators of knowledge, as the enticers of their constituents to bear more social, civil, or national responsibilities to had better help improve the lives of all stakeholders in the nation of Liberia.
In a similar context, CSOs should be given active opportunities in meeting the challenges of social service delivery whether in the area of education, healthcare, public transportation, and so forth. Most of these services are unavailable not only in urban areas, but also in rural areas and villages. The reality is that some of the services needed in rural areas are also needed in metropolitan areas. According to Friedman (2003), ensuring access to affordable and adequate childcare, convenient, and reliable transportation is difficult in rural areas.
Social Policy implementation in rural areas
Additionally, to elevate the chances of attaining empirical results as a product of leadership effectiveness, marginalized civil groups or indigenous non-governmental organizations should consider implementation issues. At the same time, they should also position themselves to meet the challenges thereof. One of the issues related challenges is the degree to which public policy implementing officials and target groups do interact consistently with the policy objectives and implementing procedures enumerated in policy decisions. Second, is on the extent to which the policy objectives are obtained. Third, is being aware of the key factors that tend to affect policy outcomes and their implications. Fourth is the information associated with the policy referenced in Mazmanian and Sabatier (1989).
Furthermore, based on Elson (2006) how the INGOs or CBOs should position themselves in order to perform efficient policy implementation is a part of the elements to be discussed below. These elements are identified and classified into three main categories that may benefit the civil organizations if they are adopted into implementation practices. According to Elson (2006), these elements include a) material issues associated with the problem(s) being address; b) structural dimensions that do influence the problem(s); and c) the net effect of a number of contextual issues or variables to support the policy itself. In effect, Elson (2006) added that knowledge of these three variables could be applied to the five stages of public policy implementation.
Marginalized civil groups, CBOs, INGOs, and disenfranchised civil organizations all of which are agencies of civil society, should strive harder to improve the lives of village dwellers or people in rural communities. They should encourage even economic development throughout Liberia in the context of Pindus (2001). As mentioned above, rural communities often lack the necessary infrastructure needed to attract businesses, or deal with the high expenses associated with rural development culminated with lack of job opportunities.
In light of the above, what is important now for civil society agencies is to identify policy program issues or variables effective leaders of CSOs, NGOs, CBOs and other nonprofit agencies that can push on the agenda of policy makers to be considered in the process of developing social service policies that target rural areas. It should also be noted that the demographics of rural working families are significantly different from those of urban families. Studies show that these demographics lack influence in their attitudes about accessing social services and support their existence. Since the employment opportunities in rural areas are limited or none existent in Liberia, most families, or almost all families in rural communities are in dare poverty. As a result, they approach the challenges associated with poverty differently according to Findeis et al. (2001).
Meanwhile, a number of rural workers that participate in the formal economy are often marginalized even in-group efforts seeking to participate in allowable work activities. Such activities tend to disrupt any additional living arrangements because the requirement of social assistance seems unwelcoming to rural dwellers. Therefore, these marginalized people are often unwilling to admit their need for public assistance as observed in Kraybill, David, and Lobao (2001).
Another area of interest leaders of marginalized groups to be concerned with is the organization’s ability to recognize the specific needs of their constituents that should be addressed in social policy targeting rural dwellers. CSOs or NGOs in Liberia face challenges in influencing specific social policies to meet local needs for job creation and local economic development, access to support services, infrastructure support, and greater services for human capital development (Whitener et al., 2002).
Additional concern relating to public policy implementation is the fact that several rural communities often rely on subsistence living and on part-time working local public officials. These officials often lack the capacity, or the human and fiscal resources needed for public agencies and civil society organizations to work efficiently according to the Rural Policy Research Institute (RPRI, 1998). Yet, such circumstances can be dealt with when innovative programs are put in place as a product of significant planning and careful administration necessary to providing needed services. The same will also be achieved by encouraging organizations to share staff and work cooperatively to help meet the communities’ needs (Relave, 2000).
With regard to the public policy implementation in rural communities, there are many questions left, which have to be answered. For the purpose of the study being proposed, discussion of the policy implementation variables ends here with the understanding that there are more issues involved to address than the usual charitable giving to needy people. In a study of Kraybill and Labao (2001), five key issues relating to policy implementation in the North (developed nations) were identified, and whether these issues are relevant to nations in the South (developing countries including Liberia) and are likely to take yield of them without cultural ratification is left with people of the south to assess.
In the South, especially Liberia, the issues of financing, economic development, land use planning, public service delivery, education, healthcare delivery and many more, should take priority in policy formation and in adequate policy implementation. This is because the trends of public agencies are losing their own expertise and employing the expertise of nonprofits discussed in Kraybill, David, and Lobao (2000).
Chapter 2 discusses important elements of a successful effective leadership. It also reflects on the vital characteristics of a successful organizational advocacy leadership. The understanding is that organizations are likely to succeed in their missions provided influential activists seriously examine a broad range of different challenges and opportunities. In going further, chapter 3 discusses the study’s processes and methods to be use in gathering data and analyzing the data before reaching conclusions about the presence and absence of leadership effectiveness in the civil society of Liberia.
The study will explore the impacts of leadership effectiveness in strengthening the influence of marginalized civil society agencies and disenfranchised community-based organizations in Liberia. This is a country, which is arising from the ashes of 14 years civil conflict and century and half years of governing neglect. Through the institutional mechanism of the New African Research and Development Agency (NARDA), this is a European based international non-governmental organization. The study will attempt to usher a better understanding of the role this organization played in developing local and national nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in Liberia. It will also look at the role played in developing the skills of local leaders and building the capacity of the community based organizations to better participate in public policy making. This in turn that may lead to community development, adherence to the rule of law, and human rights protection.
From the discussion above the framework of what constitutes leadership effectiveness for advocacy organization was discussed, which include the pursuit of knowledge, skills, adoptability and strategies. These have been noted to have the ability to enhance the capacity of civil society agencies, especially the marginalized and disenfranchised organizations in Liberia. As a result, the study will emphasize NARDA’s initiatives in developing internal management skills of agency personnel including areas such as program development, proposal writing, financial management, fundraising, community mobilization, and so forth (California Endowment, 2009).
The study will use a case study method chosen because it seems appropriate to use in probing into the details of the current conditions of marginalized and disenfranchised civil groups in Liberia that is yet to be explored. The reality of today is that research in this sector of society is starting to take hold on the development of civil society organizations in the western region of Sub-Sahara Africa. Yet, it does carry a serious categorical analysis of the need for leadership effectiveness and its potential positive social change impacts in the lives of the Liberian people. Such lack of consideration means there is no clear awareness of the complex nature of the relationships and strategic mechanism in fostering policy making in the interest of their constituents.
In addition, the study will adopt procedural tactics. This is in the context of Wall et al (1992) who emphasized the assertion that effective leadership is capable of setting organization’s direction based on two vital roles. The two roles include the leader having a vision and the ability to implement it, and two, the ability to prepare followers to evaluate their performance for higher levels of responsibilities. As noted in the preceding sections, local NGOs are excluded from the formation or development of public policies, as well as, from the policy implementation process due to the lack of effective leadership along with other resource challenges.
Using the case study methodology, the study will employ the framework of NARDA’s NGOs formation activities in Liberia. Use of this framework will provide an opportunity to explore and assess the current scheme of civil society organizations development in Liberia and the potentials for success and failures. In cultural context, the aim is to identify what is conceptually meant by effective leadership and the empirical evidence that is made up of leadership effectiveness in civil and community based organizational leadership.
The reality worth noting is that Liberia is politically challenged, and has the task of main fragile peace and security while nurturing democratic development and managing popular expectations in an illiterate population in a poverty ridden environment.
The research will be guided to answer the following questions:
- What are the challenges in establishing leadership effectiveness in nongovernmental organizations in Liberia?
- What constitute leadership effectiveness impacts, and NGOs adaptability-the ability to observe, monitor, assess, and respond to internal and external changes in terms of networking, collaborating, and assessing organizational effectiveness, evaluating programs and services and planning?
- By what standards and strategies can civil groups participate in public decision-making, and in selection of their local and national public officers?
- What are some of the characteristics and experiences that bear on the capacity of civil society in Liberia?
- What kind of relations can civil groups develop between themselves, political parties, and public agents in Liberia?
The research will use the case study methodology to examine the NGOs developing activities of a European-based International NGO by the name, the New African Research and Development Agency (NARDA). The study will further look at how it prepared local leaders to lead their organizations effectively in order to fully participate in social and public policy formation. Later on, the implementation of the policies in their communities will be discussed.
The study will use NARDA, a European based non-governmental organization (NGO) which implemented several programs including civil society organization development in Liberia. With that enriched history and reputation in the international development community, the study will reflect on leadership training programs and organization development schemes. This means strengthening the ability of civil organizations, and providing skills and capacity in enhancing training to local organization leaders. The study will pinpoint the type of skills CSOs leaders need in the form of recommending specific programs such as training staff on how to write program proposals, conduct fundraising, financial management, accounting duties, and maintaining transparency and the entire civil society of Liberia.
Productive communication will occur in the form of interviews between the researcher and individuals from NARDA and its international partners, sponsors, as well as other collaborators that operate in Liberia without difficulties.
Data Collection and Sources
Different data sets will be collected from different sources. For instance, first-hand data will be collected from interviews, and second-hand data will be collected from NARDA’s archives, and public records of Liberia.
Interviews: The researcher will contact the country representative in Liberia and the regional director for West Africa to arrange for interviews. Upon IRB’s approval, the researcher will initiate communication via email and telephone to request interviews along with a signed letter of cooperation by the researcher and the interviewee.
All interviews will be conducted in the English Language, and will be recorded directly via telephone to be transcribed by a third party. The researcher will pose open-ended questions about training modules, donor funding, local NGOs preferred, and experience of NARDA as a European based organization, and its influence on civil or social policy making in Liberia. All the participants will be given consent forms to authorize participation in the interview process. All documents including forms and letters will be listed in the Appendix.
Historical operational documents: The New African Research and Development Agency (NARDA) provided programs and projects specific reports for its operation in Liberia. Specifically, this international NGO provides nationwide and countywide reports in compliance to the requirement of the District Development Commission (DDC) of Liberia. This NGO also provided internal evaluation surveys of participants report.
In addition, the study will examine Liberia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) from the World Bank in order to gain in depth country related information on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and documents on the participation of civil society and NGOs in the making of public policies and their implementation across the country.
Public Records: The last source of data collection is from the public records. In context of this study, public records include journal articles, newsletters, newspapers, organization websites postings and online news sources for instance editorials and commentary no more than five years old. These records may provide information about NARDA’s programs impact on NGOs and civil society development and capacity enhancement for productive participation in public policy making in Liberia. Additional information may be attained from sources such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The entire data collection process will be undertaking on a timely schedule of which a chart will be provided post IRB’s approval.
The data collected will be analyzed using a three steps process that involves cross- examination of the data sources, and result from one source to the others to analyze properly the data and their relativities and relationships.
- NARDA’s NGOs development programs in Liberia created a foundation from which the researcher will reexamine previous decisions based on the contents of interviews and specific social dynamics, and other secondary data.
- Strong efforts will be exerted in order to reduce inherent bias and ensure accuracy. Some inquiries may be conducted via telephone to be analyzed by independent third party (ITP), and then by experienced researcher.
- The third step may be to code and analyze the interviews, NARDA’s program records data, and public records using qualitative data analysis software, NVIVO7. Of course, the guiding ideas or themes resulting from the three sources of data collection; first, unstructured interview; second, current records; and third, organization’s historical records will serve as the benchmarks of the analytical process. Although useful guiding ideas may surface during the research as there will be specific pointers for queries in the analytical process.
Research guiding idea pointers
- Obstacles in the formation and training of NGO program in Liberia for NARDA and program trainees. Pointers: The pointers will be identified from interviews and NARDA’s program reports.
- Current plans for local NGOs participation in the making of social policies in Liberia. Pointers: May identify NARDA’s strategies in context of the research participation in the making of social policies termed active involvement in national policy making concerns or issues of social economic development.
- It may include obstacles NARDA might have experienced in dealing with the donors community, the Liberian government, other international NGOs, and civil local organizations regarding their exclusion from the public policy making process. To have a better understanding of the reasons for the exclusion, the researcher may first reexamine sources of the secondary data. Secondly, they have to make sure that the questions to be asked are directly related to the main issues.
- Other obstacles might derive from donor funding and associated influence in creating and advancing of local or national NGOs programs. Pointers: Identify the level of international donor-funde3d programs within NARDA will be cross- examined with donor objectives for the country.
The researcher will seriously continue to consider the possibility of the study having some effects. It may also see to it that it is not skewed due to the absence of full disclosure. This may result from the participants’ lack of thorough awareness of the main idea of interest. For instance, the inquiry will relate to issues of policy-making that may prove difficult for one to assure complete honesty without any semblance of relationship. To add on this, even in a case that trust is built, the interviewee might have concern about who will read the resulting document (dissertation) that could affect their organization(s) funding and operations.
Chapter 3 identifies the research questions, the process of data collection, the data analysis procedures, and standards for the study. The finding of the study will be presented and discussed in chapter 4. Then, additional results and recommendations will be summarily reviewed.in Chapter 5.
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