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Master's Professional Reports Abstract

Public-Private Initiatives in Local Development: A Study of NGO-Municipal Collaboration in Colombia

The worldwide proliferation of nongovernmental development organizations (NGOs) during the past three decades reflects the growing recognition that neither the market nor the state can be relied upon to address basic community needs adequately. In Latin America, the recent movement to decentralize national governments and strengthen municipalities has contributed to an increasing tendency toward collaboration between the public and private, non-profit sectors to meet local demands and provide public services. The purpose of this study is to better understand the rising tide of interest in joint ventures between municipal governments and local-level NGOs, focusing specifically on the evolution of this trend in Colombia.

Current joint projects in the city of Cali provide data for testing the propositions that 1) the public and private sector actors involved in local development are becoming increasingly linked through NGO-municipal collaboration; and 2) this form of interaction is complex, maintaining the potential to promote either constructive or problematic outcomes depending on the balance of power in the relationship.

The study concludes that while collaboration may increase the effectiveness of local development initiatives in certain contexts, it may also limit the capacity of some NGOs to function autonomously. The report contributes to a clearer understanding of the implications of this phenomenon and its potential to facilitate or hinder local strategies for community improvement.

--Author's foreword.