This research aims to describe the installation process of corporate governance practices in the NGO sector in Chile to analyse the rationales guiding the process. Corporate governance has been described as the practice that provides the highest level of steering to an organisation that builds legitimacy and accountability to a complex array of stakeholders. A qualitative methodology was used to explore how corporate governance models have been used and considered and examine the influence and effects of neoliberal rationales on the implementation and operation of corporate governance and accountability practices in the NGO sector in Chile. Thirty-nine interviews with founders, board members, executive directors, team leaders, and NGO team members were conducted. Consultants in the sector, members of organisations supporting or funding NGOs, and academics researching the sector were also interviewed. As complementary sources, documents and data that originated in organisations working with NGOs were also considered. It argues that corporate governance is practised in the NGO sector with no reference to a particular theoretical model, being dominant a best-practice-orientation. As for the influence and effects of neoliberal rationales, it argues that several features of corporate governance practice relate to this rationale. Such is the case of philanthropic practices in umbrella NGOs; the notion of competitiveness between organisations; quantitative effectiveness measurement of resources; efficiency as a feast achievable by private endeavours; social innovation as a key driver; and entrepreneurial self as the proper attitude running these organisations. It argues that an emerging philanthropic sector has shaped the process of installation of corporate governance. A rationale shared with other actors in the sector reinforces a practice of accountability and legitimacy concerned with donors and funders seen as owners-like figures, with potential beneficiaries out of sight. This situation creates the conditions for NGOs to have an increasingly reduced space to offer alternatives of any kind. The above occurs because the definitions are taken in this space where philanthropic, academic, or consulting actors meet and establish the guidelines that NGOs must follow to have the legitimacy to provide them with access to the necessary resources and funds to operate. It contributes to the knowledge and understanding of the deployment of corporate governance, underscoring the necessity for a systemic approach encompassing various stakeholders when researching corporate governance in the NGO sector. This approach would contest technocratic-inspired practices that reduce corporate governance to a narrower scope, neglecting the systemic nature apparent since its first development.
- Corporate Governance
- Nongovernmental organisations