Relationships Matter: The Best Kept Secret of International Aid?

Published on 1 January 2010

Taking as starting point current orthodoxies of results-based management, this article discusses the long duration of the substantialist ‘philosophical plumbing’ of international aid and the ambivalent, if not subversive, relational response of some aidpractitioners.

Their response reflects an alternative mode of thought, largely invisible in official discourse, but with a potentially significant influence on institutional viability and the capacity of aid interventions to support progressive social change. However, because these relational practices are often mis-represented up the management chain to conform to the official representation of how aid works, their positive effects may be falsely attributed to the successful implementation of the substantialist orthodoxy. Thus, hidden relational practices may be sustaining the very norms that such practices are subverting.


Rosalind Eyben

Emeritus Fellow

Publication details

published by
Eyben, R.
Annual Digest of CDRA, volume 1


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