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Explaining the Role of Culture and Traditions in Functioning of Civil Society Organizations in Kazakhstan

  • Tamara G. NezhinaEmail author
  • Aigerim R. Ibrayeva
Original paper

Abstract

Recent studies find that Western-style professional nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries are weak and unsustainable. Most of these NGOs developed strong dependency on foreign donors for funds, and did not develop local network of support. This study is conducted to understand the lack of effectiveness of NGOs in Kazakhstan and to test popular sentiments toward NGOs. The interview with local and foreign social science experts and public figures confirm that NGOs in Kazakhstan are weak and unsustainable. The explanations of institutional ineffectiveness lay in disconnect with local traditions, low visibility of NGOs, and unsupportive government. Survey of general population suggests that people in Kazakhstan know very little about NGOs and do not appreciate their utility. We explain the inability of civil society organizations to reach out to local people by cultural mismatch. By using the Hofstede national culture model (Culture's consequences: International differences in work-related values. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, 1984), we argue that local culture is in striking dissonance with the culture of donor countries, which created the NGO agenda in Kazakhstan.

Keywords

Kazakhstan NGOs Civil society National culture Soviet paternalism 

Résumé

Des études récentes ont conclu que les organisations non-gouvernementales professionnelles de style occidental (ONG) au Kazakhstan et dans d’autres pays d’Asie Centrale sont faibles et non-viables. La plupart de ces ONG ont développé une forte dépendance à l’égard des donateurs étrangers concernant leur financement, et n’ont pas développé de réseau local de soutien. La présente étude est menée afin de comprendre l’absence d’efficacité des ONG au Kazakhstan et de mettre à l’épreuve les sentiments populaires vis-à-vis des ONG. Les entretiens avec des experts locaux et étrangers en sciences sociales ainsi que des personnalités publiques confirment que les ONG au Kazakhstan sont faibles et non viables. Les explications concernant l’inefficacité institutionnelle ont trait à la déconnexion avec les traditions locales, la faible visibilité des ONG et l’absence de soutien par le gouvernement. Une étude portant sur la population générale indique que les ressortissants du Kazakhstan ont une connaissance très limitée des ONG et n’ont aucune perception quant à leur utilité. Nous expliquons l’incapacité des organisations de la société civile à entrer en contact avec les populations locales en raison d’un décalage culturel. En recourant au modèle de culture nationale de Hofstede (1984), notre argument est que la culture locale se révèle en remarquable dissonance avec la culture des pays donateurs, qui ont créé les missions des ONG au Kazakhstan.

Zusammenfassung

Kürzlichen Studien zufolge sind nach westlichem Vorbild gestaltete professionelle nicht-staatliche Organisationen in Kasachstan und anderen zentralasiatischen Ländern schwach und untragbar. Die meisten dieser nicht-staatlichen Organisationen entwickelten eine starke Abhängigkeit von ausländischen Spenden und bauten kein lokales Unterstützungsnetz auf. Die vorliegende Studie wird durchgeführt, um die fehlende Effektivität nicht-staatlicher Organisationen in Kasachstan zu verstehen und verbreitete Meinungen über nicht-staatliche Organisationen zu prüfen. Die Befragungen lokaler und ausländischer Sozialwissenschaftsexperten und Personen des öffentlichen Lebens bestätigen, dass nicht-staatliche Organisationen in Kasachstan schwach und untragbar sind. Die Erklärungen für eine mangelnde institutionelle Effektivität sind ein fehlendes Verbundensein mit lokalen Traditionen, die geringe Sichtbarkeit nicht-staatlicher Organisationen und eine mangelnden Unterstützung seitens der Regierung. Befragungen der allgemeinen Bevölkerung lassen darauf schließen, dass die Menschen in Kasachstan nur sehr wenig über nicht-staatliche Organisationen wissen und sich ihrer Nützlichkeit nicht bewusst sind. Wir erklären die Unfähigkeit der Bürgergesellschaftsorganisationen, die Menschen vor Ort aufgrund einer fehlenden kulturellen Übereinstimmung anzusprechen. Unter Berufung auf das Modell von Hofstede zu nationalen Kulturen (1984) behaupten wir, dass sich die lokale Kultur wesentlich von der Kultur der Spenderländer unterscheidet, auf welche die Vorstellungen der nicht-staatlichen Organisationen in Kasachstan aufbauen.

Resumen

Estudios recientes encuentran que las organizaciones no gubernamentales profesionales estilo occidental (ONG) en Kazajstán y otros países de Asia Central son débiles y no sostenibles. La mayoría de estas ONG desarrollaron una gran dependencia de donantes extranjeros para los fondos, y no desarrollaron una red de apoyo local. Este estudio se lleva a cabo para comprender la falta de efectividad de las ONG en Kazajstán y para probar los sentimientos populares hacia las ONG. La entrevista con expertos en ciencias sociales locales y extranjeros y figuras públicas confirman que las ONG en Kazajstán son débiles y no sostenibles. Las explicaciones de la ineficacia institucional residen en la desconexión con las tradiciones locales, la baja visibilidad de las ONG y un gobierno que no apoya. La encuesta de la población común sugiere que la gente en Kazajstán sabe muy poco sobre las ONG y no valora su utilidad. Explicamos la incapacidad de las organizaciones de la sociedad civil para llegar a la gente local por incompatibilidad cultural. Mediante el uso del modelo de cultura nacional de Hofstede (1984), argumentamos que la cultura local está en notable disonancia con la cultura de los países donantes, que crearon la agenda de las ONG en Kazajstán.

摘要

近期研究发现,哈萨克斯坦和其他中亚国家内的西方式专业非政府机构通常非常脆弱,不具可持续发展能力。大部分此类非政府严重依赖外国捐助作为其资金来源,而未能成功地发展起本地支持网络。本研究目的是为了了解哈萨克斯坦的非政府机构缺乏运作绩效的问题,并测试其国内针对非政府机构的广泛民意。与当地和外国社会科学专家和公众人物的访谈确认了哈萨克斯坦国内的非政府机构的确非常脆弱,不具可持续发展能力。整个机制性的无效性,其根源在未能与当地传统很好地结合,非政府机构宣传力度不够,以及政府方面不太支持。综合民意调查显示,哈萨克斯坦民众对非政府机构知之甚少,也不认为他们有何功用。我们认为,这种公民社会机构之所以无法取得大众支持,是因为文化差异。我们使用 Hofstede 国家文化模型(1984),提出这样一个观点:指导哈萨克斯坦国内非政府组织运作的捐款国家,其文化与当地文化格格不入。

要約

最近の研究から、カザフスタンと他の中央アジア諸国における欧米型のプロの非政府組織(NGO)が脆弱であり、維持が不可能であることが明らかになった。NGOの大部分は、資金を提供する外国人の援助資金供与者に強く依存して展開されており、サポートのための企業内情報通信網を発展させてこなかったことがわかった。本研究では、カザフスタンにおけるNGOの有効性の欠如を理解して、NGOに対する人々の感情を検証する。地元の外国人で社会科学の専門家と有名人とのインタビューからカザフスタンにおけるNGOが脆弱で維持が不可能であることが確認できる。組織の非効率性には、地元の伝統、知名度の低いNGO、非支援的な政府がある。一般住民に対する調査では、カザフスタンの人々はNGOに関してほとんど知らず、またその有用性を評価していない。これは市民社会組織が文化的にミスマッチで現地の人々と連携を取ることができないことを表している。ホーフステードによる国家の文化モデル(1984)を用いることによって、著しい不協和音にはカザフスタンにおけるNGOの課題を作成した援助国の文化が地元の文化と共にあることを主張する。

ملخص

الدراسات الحديثة وجدت أن المنظمات الغير حكومية(NGOs) ذات النمط الغربي المهني في كازاخستان وغيرها من بلدان آسيا الوسطى ضعيفة وغير مستدامة. وضعت معظم هذه المنظمات الغير حكومية(NGOs) الإعتماد القوي على المانحين الأجانب للحصول على أموال، ولم تطور الشبكة المحلية للدعم. أجريت هذه الدراسة لفهم عدم فعالية المنظمات الغير حكومية (NGOs) في كازاخستان واختبار المشاعر الشعبية تجاه المنظمات الغير حكومية(NGOs). مقابلة مع الخبراء المحليين والأجانب في العلوم الاجتماعية والشخصيات العامة أكدت أن المنظمات الغير حكومية(NGOs) في كازاخستان ضعيفة وغير مستدامة. تفسيرات لعدم الفعالية المؤسسية يكمن في عدم الإتصال مع التقاليد المحلية ، إنخفاض مستوى الرؤية من المنظمات الغير حكومية (NGOs)، والحكومة غير الداعمة. إستطلاع الرأي لعموم السكان تشير إلى أن الناس في كازاخستان لا يعرفون سوى القليل جدا حول المنظمات الغير حكومية(NGOs)، ولايقدرون فائدتها.. نحن نفسر عدم قدرة منظمات المجتمع المدني للوصول إلى السكان المحليين عن طريق عدم تطابق الثقافة. باستخدام نموذج هوفستيد(Hofstede) للثقافة الوطنية (1984) فإننا نجادل أن الثقافة المحلية في ضرب تنافر مع ثقافة البلدان المانحة، التي أنشأت جدول أعمال المنظمات الغير حكومية (NGOs) في كازاخستان.

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Copyright information

© International Society for Third-Sector Research and The John's Hopkins University 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Public ServiceDePaul UniversityChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Public Administration, College of Social Sciences, KIMEPThe Kazakhstan Institute of Management, Economics, and Strategic ResearchAlmatyRepublic of Kazakhstan

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