An in-depth case study of beneficiary accountability practices by an Indonesian NGO

  • Miranti Dewi

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This study aims to build an understanding of beneficiary accountability, including defining the term, the operational mechanisms through which it is discharged, the processes that enable such practice and the consequences that result from those processes. To achieve the aim, a qualitative case study design is adopted and a rich fieldwork carried out in an Indonesian NGO to gather empirical evidences via 46 interviews, five focus groups and field observations. Framed by Nahapiet and Ghoshal (1998)’s three dimensions of social capital (cognitive, structural and relational), this study shows that social capital acts as both an antecedent factor facilitating the discharge of beneficiary accountability, and also as its consequence. The study thus makes a theoretical contribution to social capital literature while also addressing Inkpen and Tsang (2005)’s call for research to examine interaction effects among the three dimensions of social capital, particularly within NGO accountability context. Moreover, the discharge of beneficiary accountability, as understood by participants in this study, can be viewed as the non-procedural practice of positioning beneficiaries as the central focus of an NGO’s activities, whether in delivering provisions and assistance, disclosing financial information or strategically empowering beneficiaries to become self-reliant. This investigation into what constitutes beneficiary accountability serves as a critical path to shedding light on the operationalisation of beneficiary accountability. It also enables this study to respond to recent calls (e.g. by Banks, Hulme, & Edwards, 2015; Boomsma & O'Dwyer, 2014; Schmitz, Raggo, & Vijfeijken, 2012) for a more comprehensive understanding of beneficiary accountability practices. Additionally, practitioners working in NGOs may also derive benefits from this study as it provides empirical evidence for them to reflect on their commitment to beneficiaries as the very reason for their work, allowing them to be inspired by a comprehensive discussion of the mechanisms through which accountability is discharged to beneficiaries.
Date of Award2017
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAtaur R Belal (Supervisor) & Melina M Manochin (Supervisor)


  • beneficiary accountability
  • trust
  • NGO
  • social capital
  • Indonesia

Cite this