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Who Will Guard the Guardians?

The Social Responsibility Of Ngos

Most writers on social responsibility focus on the responsibility of business firms, with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) serving as police or at least as a conscience. As scholars have frequently pointed out, corporate activists have become adept at holding companies to account for the social consequences of their activities.

Today, I raise an issue usually neglected in these analyses: who will guard the guardians or, more specifically, who are NGOs responsible to? The results of my research so far are not very encouraging. Ironically, NGOs, the sector of society that attempts to hold business firms accountable for their social responsibility, rarely have established governance mechanisms whereby their members and contributors can hold them accountable for their activities.

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