International Development Planning Review

The generational status quo explained: longitudinal case studies of small Dutch NGOs

International Development Planning Review Ahead of print, 1–28.


According to ‘generational’ thinking, traditional, non-participatory service-delivery oriented organisations are expected to gradually evolve into participatory organisations aiming for structural change. Strikingly, it appears that this conventional wisdom has never been tested rigorously. This research seeks to help address this gap, employing a unique longitudinal study design, tracing the evolution of Dutch small-scale development initiatives in Kenya. We found that the overwhelming majority changed neither strategy nor manner of intervention. Our analysis highlights various, often mutually reinforcing factors that form an impediment to change. Only a few of these organisations were able to overcome the constraints, with additional financial resources being a key determinant. Although this research has various limitations stemming from the specific character of the sample, it does at least suggest consideration of the need for a nuancing in generational thinking and a more open understanding of NGOs’ potential change trajectories.

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Author details

Kinsbergen, Sara

Koch, Dirk-Jan