Working Together: Government Contractors Building Democracy Abroad
AuthorNeal, Rachael S.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractAlthough the United States has hired private contractors to execute government-funded work since its inception, these contractors have become increasingly more common since the 1980s. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has been no exception; the number of for- and non-profit contractors designing and implementing international foreign aid projects has proliferated. The complicated relationships among USAID, nonprofit, and for-profit contractors raise important questions about the factors that influence 1) which types of organizations receive contracts, and 2) which characteristics increase the likelihood that contractors will form inter-organizational partnerships via their work on USAID's contracts. This dissertation explores both by examining 232 contractors that implemented USAID's democracy-building projects abroad 1999-2004. First, logistic regressions were used to assess the influence of nonprofit organizations' political affiliations on their ability to obtain USAID's contracts. The results of these analyses suggest that that in certain years, nonprofit organizations with prominent, politically connected board members were more successful than others in obtaining USAID contracts. In other time periods, the composition of nonprofits' boards had no significant impact on organizational success in acquiring contracts.Second, this dissertation evaluates whether inter-organizational familiarity influences the likelihood of contractors partnering on USAID-funded contracts. The results of logistic regressions indicate that inter-organizational familiarity from past partnerships has increased the chance that organizations partner in certain time periods. These findings stress the role of organizational learning in their decisions to partner, as well as the impact of government programs designed to diversify the pool of available contractors. This research considers the ways that changing political environments influence the availability of resources for contracting organizations with particular characteristics. Moreover, it underscores the need to assess the contracting system in order to ensure that those chosen to implement government-funded work are as capable, innovative, and accountable for their work as possible.