If You Don't Count, You Don't Count: Monitoring and Evaluation in South African NGOs

Natascha Mueller-Hirth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are increasingly challenged to demonstrate accountability and relevance, with reporting, monitoring and evaluation arguably having become development activities in their own right. Drawing on interviews and observation research, this article examines the impact of intensified monitoring and evaluation (M&E) requirements on a number of South African NGOs. M&E — and the types of expertise, vocabularies and practices it gives rise to — is an important area that is usually neglected in the study of NGOs but that significantly impacts on NGOs’ logic of operation. By focusing on three areas — data that are considered appropriate to conduct M&E, staffing and organizational cultures, and NGOs’ reformist relationships with other civil society organizations (CSOs) — M&E is revealed as a central discursive element in the constitution of NGOs appropriate to neoliberal development. By engaging a neo-Foucauldian framework of governmentality, M&E practices are thus understood as technologies through which governing is accomplished in the trans-scalar post-apartheid development domain.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)649-670
Number of pages22
JournalDevelopment and Change
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2012


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