Going to Scale: A Case Study of an Indian Educational NGO

  • Panchali GuhaEmail author
Original Paper


Effective programmes introduced by NGOs in developing countries have the potential to benefit a large number of people if they are scaled up, but instances of successful scaling-up are relatively rare. This paper uses a case study of an Indian educational NGO that has scaled up rapidly and effectively in order to explore the reasons for choice of scaling-up strategy, the particular barriers to scaling-up in the education sector, and how these barriers can be overcome. It finds that, while a high-functioning NGO can successfully overcome many of the internal organisational challenges posed by scaling-up, external barriers such as the difficulty of building relationships with key stakeholders like government officials and school teachers pose significant challenges. While these difficulties could in principle be mitigated by moving from an expansion-based to collaboration-based model of scaling-up, low accountability and governance of the NGO sector make it difficult to detect the quality of potential partners. The case also shows that India’s recent law mandating CSR has increased funding availability for scaling-up, but its requirement for corporate donors to preferentially support local projects has also created some challenges by constraining NGO ability to harness economies of scale during scaling.


NGO Scaling-up Education India Corporate social responsibility CSR 



I am grateful to all the interviewees for their time and to Alfred Wu, Phanish Puranam, and two anonymous reviewers for their comments on an earlier draft.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Standards

The author declares that she has complied with ethical standards in the preparation of this research article.


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Copyright information

© International Society for Third-Sector Research 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lee Kuan Yew School of Public PolicyNational University of Singapore (NUS)SingaporeSingapore

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