Accountability in NGOs: Evidence of two Christian faith-based organizations in Ghana

Charles Antwi Owusu

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

785 Downloads (Pure)


The purpose of the thesis is to examine how the accountability relationships and practices of two Christian faith-based organizations (CFBO) help achieve the organizational ‘faith’ mission as well as the ‘development’ mission of poverty alleviation activities.
The thesis achieves its purpose by employing O’Dwyer and Unerman (2008) theory of “Holistic accountability”. This is augmented by Bourdieu (1990) “Logic of Practice” theory to provide a theoretical explanation and analysis of the empirical data in the light of two CFBO’s relationships with their stakeholders.
Multiple data collection methods, including semi-structured interviews, documentary analysis and observations at meetings, are utilised to explore officers’ perceptions of what drives accountability relationships and to whom and why officers are accountable in carrying out the dual missions: the faith mission and the development mission of poverty alleviation activities.
The study finds that in faith based organizations that work for development purposes, different accountability relations are important. Two key components of holistic accountability are identified: hierarchical upward and downward accountability relationships. However, holistic accountability includes accountability relationships between CFBO funders, churches, beneficiaries and government, making it more complex than originally envisaged by O’Dwyer and Unerman. Such accountability relationships are necessary and important to manage so as to obtain economic capital for the purpose of achieving both the ‘faith’ mission and the poverty alleviation mission.
Furthermore, different funding sources lead to different accountabilities. Additionally, organizational “habitus” (explained in the thesis as ‘values’) strongly influence accountability relationships practices in CFBOs. While in both cases, organizations have Christian faith-based "habitus", there are differences of how this impacts on the achievement of the organizational faith mission and poverty alleviation mission.
The thesis contributes to the literature by explaining the interactions between faith, relationships and different sources of funding upon which NGOs depend for poverty alleviation. The nature of holistic accountability depends on the context of the NGO.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Agyemang, Gloria, Supervisor
  • Unerman, Jeffrey, Advisor
Award date1 Nov 2017
Publication statusUnpublished - 2017


  • NGOs
  • Faith-based
  • Accountability
  • Ghana
  • Christian
  • INGO
  • DFID
  • MoFA

Cite this