Case | HBS Case Collection | October 2010 (Revised July 2013)

ActionAid International: Globalizing Governance, Localizing Accountability

by Alnoor Ebrahim and Rachel Gordon

Abstract

As a global NGO working in 45 countries, ActionAid International aims to eradicate poverty by addressing its underlying causes such as injustice and inequality. This case follows a series of radical transformations implemented by the organization's CEO, Ramesh Singh—a power shift from its headquarters in London to an international secretariat in Johannesburg; a new federated governance structure that increases the influence of units in Africa and Asia; and, innovations in accountability and transparency to the poor communities with which it works. But as Singh gets ready to step down after seven years, he is confronted with challenges from newly empowered country units that he feels risk taking the organization in the wrong direction. How will the divisions between the Northern and Southern units play out? Will they tear the organization apart, just when it is becoming a global player?

Keywords: Local Range; Globalized Firms and Management; Corporate Accountability; Corporate Governance; Leading Change; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Organizational Structure; Nonprofit Organizations; Power and Influence; Johannesburg; London;

Citation:

Ebrahim, Alnoor, and Rachel Gordon. "ActionAid International: Globalizing Governance, Localizing Accountability." Harvard Business School Case 311-004, October 2010. (Revised July 2013.)