NGOs and Governments

Is Memorandum of Understanding enough?



By Yohanka Dumont Jakesova

SKEMA Business School

Paris, France




As the number of NGOs evolve in each field and each country, the need for project management in these organisations has increased. Especially when they are partnering with governments? Contracts need to fit in this changing environment, and they can play a meaningful role in the project’s success. The fundamental aim of this research is to understand the memorandum of understanding, what is it exactly and are there any other options for an NGO when the need for a partnership with government becomes crucial. The paper ran a literature review on recent research to assess the main challenges with several types of contracts or agreement. Then, the paper established the impact of several types of contracts or agreements on NGOs’ project with. Finally, the paper analysed how each effect and action of contracts or agreement can contribute to project management performances in the humanitarian sector. The obtained results have shown that NGOs have many options regarding contracting out with a government that could improve performance management but have better results in a long-term vision.

Keywords: memorandum of understanding, NGOs, project management, governments, development partnership, social contracting, public sector


For the past three decades, NGOs have grown in interest, in power and numbers. They can now answer many challenges and opportunities for reducing poverty and hunger, increasing child education, promoting human development and many more. Governments seek to forge a strategic partnership with NGOs. They have united to solve many issues by sharing a common goal and a development guideline. These long-term developed goals would be pursued by the alliance of the public sector and non-profit sector.

We are going to study the partnership relations between NGOs and governments, in the field of international cooperation from a management perspective. Management allows us to analyse the relations between the NGOs and governments into account the two parts simultaneously, not only one as a complement of the other but also one in dialogue with the other. “Project Management will allow us to examine how these organisations have built their partnership relationships over the years and, more specifically, how actors negotiate their dependence and autonomy within their relationships in the memorandum of understanding” [1] .

The NGO sector is exceptionally diverse, heterogeneous and populated by organisations with hugely varied size, scope, targets, structures and motivations. Therefore, they face many challenges which, together with an absence of proper project management methodology, usually cause poor project planning, lack of stakeholder involvement, partial risk management strategies, unmotivated project team and eventually – lousy quality, losses of time and money.

Project management can be compared to the preferred option to create, acquire, update, maintain expand and eventually dispose of the organisational asset [2]

A project is defined to be “an investment that requires a set of logically linked and coordinated activities performed over a finite period to accomplish a unique result in support of the desired outcome” [3]. Humanitarian projects have always been one of the biggest challenges when it comes to project management; it includes five keys processes: the initiation process, the “humanitarian” planning process, the executing process, the monitoring and controlling process and the closing process. Through these steps, the project manager of a humanitarian project will have to plan the project, create it, control it and maintain it using the available resources or assets. For NGOs, it is a means-to-end, a strategic way to achieve their project and program through project management processes. Projects undertaken by NGOs is either an investment or a cost for the organisation from which they expect a positive return on investment or an asset. As an example of a single project, Doctors Without Borders create a medical program in Chechnya working closely with the Chechen Ministry of Healthy. The project was focused on tuberculosis and mental health in this country. They helped 156 patients diagnosed with tuberculosis and 868 patients with a mental health issue. The project was successfully closed in March as committed to ensuring continuity of care for these patients. [4]


To read entire paper, click here


Editor’s note: Student papers are authored by graduate or undergraduate students based on coursework at accredited universities or training programs.  This paper was prepared as a deliverable for the course “International Contract Management” facilitated by Dr Paul D. Giammalvo of PT Mitratata Citragraha, Jakarta, Indonesia as an Adjunct Professor under contract to SKEMA Business School for the program Master of Science in Project and Programme Management and Business Development.  http://www.skema.edu/programmes/masters-of-science. For more information on this global program (Lille and Paris in France; Belo Horizonte in Brazil), contact Dr Paul Gardiner, Global Programme Director paul.gardiner@skema.edu.

How to cite this paper: Jakesova, Y. D. (2019). NGOs and Governments: Is Memorandum of Understanding enough? PM World Journal, Vol. VIII, Issue III (April).  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/pmwj80-Apr2019-Jakesova-NGOs-and-governments-memorandum-of-understanding.pdf



About the Author

Yohanka Dumont Jakesova

Paris, France



Yohanka Dumont Jakesova is a 22 years old French-Czech student, currently pursuing a Master of Science degree in Project and Program Management and Business Development at SKEMA Business School. Being deeply interested in NGOs and humanitarian projects, she involved herself in the management of several projects and is interesting in becoming a project manager in those fields.  Her international experiences, internship in Prague, Czech Republic and exchange year in St-Petersburg, Russia gave her the opportunity to become an adaptable and open-minded person.

She can be contacted at: y.dumontjakesova@gmail.com



[1] Navarros-Flores, O. (2009). Le partenariat en coopération internationale: paradoxe ou compromis? Québec, Canada: Presses de l’Université du Québec. Retrieved from Scholarvox: http://www.scholarvox.com/reader/docid/88801658/page/1?searchterm=ong

[2] Guild of Project Controls Compendium and Reference (2015, November 02). Managing project controls. Retrieved from http://www.planningplanet.com/guild/gpccar/introduction-to-managing-project-controls

[3] Guild of Project Controls Compendium and Reference (2015, November 02). Managing project controls. Retrieved from http://www.planningplanet.com/guild/gpccar/introduction-to-managing-project-controls

[4] Doctors Without Borders. (2017). Russian Federation. Retrieved from https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/what-we-do/countries/russian-federation


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