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Metagovernance and NGOisation in Thailand: An Exploratory Study of the Thai Health Promotion Foundation (THPF) and Nongovernmental Organisations (NGOs)

Ungsuchaval, Theerapat (2019) Metagovernance and NGOisation in Thailand: An Exploratory Study of the Thai Health Promotion Foundation (THPF) and Nongovernmental Organisations (NGOs). Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,.

Abstract

The thesis is an exploratory study of the Thai Health Promotion Foundation (THPF), an independent autonomous public organisation (APO) and its NGO partners in Thailand. It aims to make an explanatory account on why NGOisation of civil society has unfolded in Thailand. Since it was established in 2001, the THPF has operated by subsidising its partners to promote public health policies and civil society. It has become one of the biggest sources of funding for the NGO sector and has a considerable impact on the trajectory of the sector. The funded NGOs are facilitated in adapting themselves to become reliable partners in order to match the aims of THPF's overall programme. However, the relationship between them does not involve an absolute patronage relationship. In fact, different NGOs have different kinds of relations with the THPF. The different relations also affect the overall character of the THPF. Hence, the relationship is dynamic. To be precise, this thesis argues that the THPF-NGO relations are interdependent, asymmetrical, and consequential.

Two major theoretical frameworks are developed and employed to investigate the phenomenon: NGOisation and metagovernance. NGOisation helps examine the influences of the funding on the NGOs. It encourages us to look at the signs and the development of the funded NGOs. Metagovernance helps conceptualise the way the THPF has steered and governed the funded NGO partnership in a way that allows the NGOs to develop their autonomy.

The research is navigated by critical realism (CR) which typically encourages the search for mechanisms of metagovernance and NGOisation instead of people's understanding or associations with them. As qualitative research, information is drawn from in-depth interviews with 50 participants from the THPF and the funded NGOs and documents such as minutes of meetings and publications of the relevant organisations.

The thesis found that while NGOs have relied on the funding to operate, and perhaps to survive, the THPF has depended totally on the NGOs to implement the projects/programmes. The THPF has been strategically functioning in an 'innovative' way combining different kinds of governance mechanisms to steer the NGOs in the ways they perceive as appropriate. The THPF is also seen to exercise its power through its societal partners signifying a relational aspect of state-society cooperation.

As an independent APO, the THPF is equipped with resources and the capacity to steer. As an enabler to promote health and improvements in society, it aims to bring about changes in health and social developments. This thesis argues that the THPF performs metagovernance. The THPF strategically uses interactive governance mechanisms, namely quasi-markets (proactive granting) and quasi-network (partnership). They are the key mechanisms employed by the THPF to metagovern its NGO partners.

Consequently, NGOisation of civil society has unfolded. This phenomenon signifies a version of civil society which is focused on institutional advocacy, elite civil society, and upward accountability. NGOised organisations are driven to become more professionalised, institutionalised, bureaucratised, and depoliticised. Organisational reproduction is becoming the essence of the organisation of NGOs rather than the social constituencies they are supposed to represent.

The THPF-NGO cooperation thus represents a version of state-society relations in Thailand, where the state has changed from a traditional form of government to a metagovernor exercising its power throughout civil society and a combination of governance mechanisms beyond mere hierarchies. It also reflects how civil society has become more professionalised, institutionalised, bureaucratised, and depoliticised. This paves the way to looking at a relational dimension of the state-society relations and NGOisation.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Kendall, Jeremy
Thesis advisor: Sanghera, Balihar
Uncontrolled keywords: Metagovernance, NGOisation, Civil Society, NGOs, Funding, Thailand
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 07 Feb 2020 15:10 UTC
Last Modified: 10 Feb 2020 09:35 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/79980 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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