L. David Brown's "Creating Credibility: Legitimacy and Accountability for Transnational Civil Society"

Creating Credibility: Legitimacy and Accountability for Transnational Civil Society

L. David Brown, Lecturer in Public Policy and Associate Director for International Programs at the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations, Harvard Kennedy School


In many countries, civil society organizations (CSOs) are more trusted by the general public than businesses and government. Business leaders might maximize their profits at the expense of the business or its customers, and government officials might use their power for their own gain, but CSOs depend on their good reputations and performance in order to mobilize resources. They have fewer opportunities to convert resources into self-interested uses. Recent experience suggests, however, that civil society leaders can also be guilty of self-interested behavior, even though the rewards may be less dramatic than they are in other sectors. This is especially a concern as CSOs become more influential in national and international affairs.

Without legitimacy in the eyes of the public and other key actors, CSOs cannot effectively function in the transnational arena. Civil society expert L. David Brown provides approaches to assessing and enhancing the legitimacy and accountability of CSOs, allowing them to reach their full potential in contributions to governance and problem-solving. Creating Credibility is an essential text for anyone concerned with understanding the challenges to civil society legitimacy and finding ways CSOs can respond to these challenges.

Notable Quotes

"Brilliant, sensitive and provocative reading on one of the most confusing and contested themes of our times. Brown has been an engaged scholar over three decades at local, national and global levels. Finally, we have clarity on such issues as credibility, legitimacy and accountability. Much of what he presents in transnational context is acutely relevant in national contexts too. A must-read for civil society practitioners, funders and regulators."

-- Dr. Rajesh Tandon, Founder-President of PRIA (Society for Participatory Research in Asia), India, Chairperson, Voluntary Action Network India (VANI), and Chair, Forum International de Montréal (FIM) .

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