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“Divergent Partnerships: National Variation & INGO-State Relations in Cambodia” by Mary-Collier Wilks
January 19, 2022 @ 9:00 am – 10:00 am JST
Authors: Mary-Collier Wilks (Stanford).
Abstract: This article uses ethnographic and interview methods to compare two international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs) implementing public health programs in Cambodia. Both INGOs formally adopt the same global script, public-nonprofit partnership, but enact this script very differently in implementation. One INGO successfully aligns the script with on the ground practice while the other organization is unable and unwilling to successfully cooperate with local state officials. I argue that previous research on institutional scripts and (de)coupling needs to be expanded in order to analytically specify the process of script alignment and misalignment in INGOs. Drawing on the inhabited institutions perspective, I illustrate how global scripts are made meaningful in intra- and inter-organizational interactions through a two-step process: (1) operationalization in which the broad script is translated into specific programming and (2) implementation in which local actors do or do not align the script with actual practice in Cambodia. This article offers a method for systematically theorizing script coupling with practice in international organizations.