The expression of values in the context of non-governmental development organisations : a case-study of Oxfam New Zealand : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy (Development Studies) at Massey University (Palmerston North)

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Massey University
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This thesis is an exploratory study of the ‘expression of values’ within development organisations. I consider the value-bases of the economic and humanist paradigms of development, the nature of values and their relation to both organisational and personal positions, and how these impact on non-governmental development organisations (NGDOs). The expression of development values is embedded in theory, in practice modalities, in organisational structure and function, and in personal beliefs, attitudes and behaviours. Development values are also inherent in statements of an organisation’s vision and mission. More often than not these values are implicit, and do not always match with the organisation’s operations. In the course of this exploration I draw on the broad history of development paradigms, the influences of moral philosophy, and the evolution of NGDOs. I acknowledge the complexity of ‘development’, evident in the multiplicity of players and the multi-disciplinary nature of development in practice. A case-study of Oxfam New Zealand illustrates the significance of values and their relevance to operational functioning. My research methodology involved open-ended questionnaire techniques and analysis of secondary resources drawn from Oxfam publications. Analysis of findings reveals an interdependence between words and their meanings and the interpretation of both organisational and personal values. When the results of the case-study are aligned with the literature, my conclusions make a case for stronger articulation of values as an important future role and function of NGDOs, including Oxfam New Zealand. Values represent the why of development that shapes the how of development practice, and thus explicit values can enhance organisational strength and power.
Oxfam New Zealand, NGDOs, Development organisations