This book addresses the important and so far under-researched problem of the emergence of the sector of non-governmental development organisations (NGDOs) and their impact on Poland’s foreign policy. In view of her research experience and involvement in these issues, the author has the competences required to address these topics.
The cooperation between NGDOs and the respective state institutions is regarded as a significant aspect of the Polish model of development assistance. The life experience of Polish NGDO activists, their professionalism, but also the legacy of “Solidarity”, the lack of colonial heritage and the neutral image of the country represent our comparative advantage in development cooperation. Poland has the potential to play a more important role in development cooperation than her economic capacity would suggest, given the nation’s lack of imperial past, its positive record in striving after freedom and strong NGO sector,
The author is right to point at the relationship between NGOs’ role and overall trends, like the decreasing role of government in all areas of life. The importance of the ethos of the Polish NGO sector for processes addressed in this book is likewise accounted for. One should positively assess the proposed explanation whereby the emergence and consequent moulding of Polish aid is considered a socio-cultural phenomenon closely related to the origins of Polish civil society. In a similar vein, the geographical focus of this assistance on our eastern neighbours cannot be rationalised by geo-political factors only, but should be explained by the organisational culture of the Polish NGO sector.
The overview of literature in the bibliography indicates that both Polish and foreign studies have been consulted. To sum up, the book focuses on a so far little understood segment of reality, is based on own research, goes beyond simple description, and strives after presenting the relationship between the country’s involvement in development cooperation and the organisational culture of Polish NGOs. The book situates the outcomes of the research in the wider perspective of the development of civil society in Poland.
Prof. dr hab. Jerzy Bartkowski (review)