Vol. 12 No. 23 (2022): La finanza alla prova dell’emergenza sanitaria
Open Essays and Researches

Innovation perspectives in international development cooperation: the case of organised civil society

Ana Luisa Silva
Centre for African and Development Studies (CEsA), Lisbon School of Economics and Management (ISEG) – Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon

Published 2022-06-13


  • inclusive innovation,
  • NGOs,
  • development cooperation,
  • global justice,
  • digital transformation

How to Cite

Silva, A. L. (2022). Innovation perspectives in international development cooperation: the case of organised civil society. Cambio. Rivista Sulle Trasformazioni Sociali, 12(23), 179–197. https://doi.org/10.36253/cambio-12283


Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are still in the side-lines of the emerging literature on innovation in international development cooperation, although the topic has been gaining prominence since the 2000s, accompanying the wider transformation of the development cooperation field. The present paper presents the results of a mixed methods research that involved a broad geographic sample of 20 NGO national co-ordinating bodies through an online survey and semi-structured interviews. The goal was to map and analyse innovation perspectives, motivations, and practices in these organisations, understand their relationship with mainstream views of innovation in the field and uncover their potential to promote inclusive innovation. Results suggest that these actors have potential to promote inclusive innovation practices in the field, since they approach innovation with social change as an end goal, as opposed to having an overly solutionist and problem-solving view of social innovation. The paper also highlights the key role of information and communications technologies, as well as digital tools, as both a reason to innovate and enablers of innovation in these organisations. Finally, the conclusion leaves questions open for further research on innovation in development NGOs.


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