April 2015: We took part in the Australasian
Conference on Business and Social Sciences in Sydney, Australia
CENTED's President participated in the Australasian Conference on Business and Social Sciences, organized by the Australian Academy of Business and Social Sciences together with the Journal of Developing Areas, Tennessee State University, USA. The event took place on 13 and 14 April 2015 and the venue was the campus of Sydney University of Central Queensland. The conference was attended by just over 100 delegates representing 30 countries.
In this prestigious event, Stephen Beaumont spoke on "Transparency and Accountability of Civil Society Organizations in Latin America: State Control versus Self-Regulatory Initiatives." He also had the honor of moderating two sessions of presentations.
The meeting also served as an ideal for CENTED's authorities to make contact with representatives of many educational institutions both in Australia and also Canada, US, China, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Israel, Myanmar, India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and several African countries.
View the final conference program.(+)
Una de las sesiones moderadas
Dr. Stephen Boyle, Director de la Conferencia
Dr. Stephen Beaumont
Centro de Tecnología para el Desarrollo (CENTED), Argentina
In recent years, the large increase in the relative importance of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Latin America, in key areas such as health, education, human rights, culture and other social development issues, brings with it a greater responsibility in the governance of these organizations. Today, there is virtually no area of human development where CSOs are not actively present. This implies a significant increase in several variables such as income, resource mobilization, number of organizations, media exposure, role in the public sphere, political influence, etc.
All this encourages greater scrutiny of CSOs, both from their own stakeholders as from the general public. In fact, the scrutiny by their stakeholders is usually pretty much more precise, or at least based on greater equity, since they generally have access to better information, mainly due to its need for decision-making matters. However, the general public is often immersed in prejudice, both positive and negative, which alters their possibility of reaching a valid and reasoned conclusion regarding the effectiveness of any particular organization.
As in nature, where species occupying the same ecological niche compete for resources, in the world of CSOs the same thing applies. These organizations compete for donors, volunteers, geographic areas of influence, spaces in the media, State subsidies, representing international organizations, possibility of agreements with other institutions, attracting the best candidates in the labour market, advertisers, sponsors, and even, beneficiaries.
What makes an organization more "attractive" than others? One way in which organizations stand out above their peers is through credibility. Not only must they fulfil their mission, their work must be visible and credible. To try to capitalize on the credibility and legitimacy, CSOs have developed a significant amount of self-regulatory initiatives as indicators of transparency and social accountability. On the other hand, many believe that there should be greater government control. The main question that arises is: What mechanism is more efficient?
This research is based on previous work in which we had identified the main transparency and social accountability initiatives being carried out in recent years in Latin American countries, and attempts to answer some questions about how the general public perceives these initiatives and what impact this perception has on these organizations. The relationship between the State and CSOs, regarding the provision of public goods both in initiatives in which the State delegates in CSOs and in those that are implemented jointly, is also analyzed.
Some preliminary conclusions we found include:
-Confidence in CSOs by the general public is high. However, there is also a general claim that they should be more transparent about the funding they receive. This requirement also applies to the State when it subsidizes these organizations.
-CSOs are reluctant to accept greater control by part of their respective governments, mainly arguing that it only increases bureaucracy while it does not provide any positive insight. But they do believe that self-regulatory initiatives can improve their performance.
-Regarding State funding, both in initiatives in which the State delegates in CSOs and in those that are implemented jointly, partnership ventures increase visibility and therefore scrutiny of CSOs and their relationship with the State.
JEL Classifications: O20, O35, O38
Keywords: Civil Society Organizations, Transparency, Accountability