K4D Helpdesk Reports 438

INGOs Relocating to the Global South

Published on 14 September 2018

Under the localisation agenda of integrating more local actors in the humanitarian and development ecosystem, some INGOs are looking to adapt their discourse and structures. Relocating their headquarters to the Global South is one of the most visible manifestations of this change. However, the implications of making such a move are still being understood.

The majority of studies reviewed for this report cite a change in geopolitical dynamics as a major factor in decisions to consider relocation. Southern actors and non-traditional players are stepping up: their growing capacity and legitimacy as well as their desire to pursue more autonomous development agendas is consequently inviting INGOs to rethink their positions.

Although relocation is stirring considerable interest among INGOs, only a handful have gone forward with the move. This report identifies three case studies: ActionAid, Oxfam and ACORD. Given the relative newness of relocation as a practice, relocation experiences might appear as little more than symbolic. However, the cases of ActionAid, Oxfam and ACORD suggest that structural change followed a values-based transformation within the organisation.

Cite this publication

Williams, K. (2018) INGOs Relocating to the Global South. K4D Research Report. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies

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Williams, Kirsten