This article examines the unique characteristics of the NGO forum as a networked organization, that is, an organization structure that relies on multiparty cooperative relationships between people across structural, temporal and geographic boundaries. It studies the working methodology of the forum to discover the knowledge creation process and how such an organization utilizes its experience and knowledge work to be a successful development partner with all concerned stakeholders. Moreover, communication among forum stakeholders is not the result of random, but deliberate interactions done in the manner of a community of practice (CoP), which in turn is a part of the epistemic community that is influencing the national, global policies on water and sanitation. The study also brings out that an “environmental information system” is very important for it to function as a networked organization.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Networked Organization: The Networked Organization is a working arrangement where members are distributed but work together to achieve common goals. It is an organization where there is a system of nodes and links interconnected in various ways and directions. In the nodes, independent people and groups/teams function, link across boundaries, to work together for a common purpose. It gains authority not from a hierarchy but from an individual’s recognized knowledge and skill.
Non-Government Organization: An NGO is an association of like-minded people formed through the committed initiatives of a few people dedicated to the design, study and implementation of development projects at the grass-root level. It is neither governmental nor inter-governmental and has the qualities of being non-criminal, non-political and non violent. The members can be from national or international settings.
Networked NGO: A networked NGO is an NGO that has a dynamic network of partners who work with it to achieve common goals and objectives of a certain sector. The partners can be NGOs, indigenous communities, government departments, international organizations, community-based organizations, media, and so forth, located across geographical boundaries. In a networked NGO, there is decentralization in management, support for capacity building of partners and knowledge sharing among the stakeholders through the links that cross boundaries.
Epistemic Community: The epistemic community is composed of scientists and policy makers who share a common sense of value and principles. It has a shared belief system that allows the members to commit themselves to the “cause”. The members can be situated in national, trans-national boundaries operating through international bodies, national government and the decisions produced by the activity of the members are aimed to influence directly the policy makers on a certain issue.