Publication Date


Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

Jim Levinson


In present day Cambodia, NGOs are accepting many of the responsibilities normally assumed by governments. In this situation, one characterized by mistrust between NGOs and the government, collaboration among NGOs is more important than usual if a viable development process is to take place and provide basic services. This paper takes a critical look at the idea and practice of collaboration in Pursat, Cambodia based on interviews with eight key members of the development community. Since historical context is a vital element of understanding the current situation, this paper includes a brief background of NGOs in Cambodia, the history of Pursat, the current status of the general population, and a case study demonstrating an example of interorganizational conflict. I consider the way collaboration has been attempted in the past, why those attempts have failed, and suggest alternatives to connect organizations and organize development during this critical period. The collaboration that does exist in Pursat is often between two organizations with a mutual donor who requires them to collaborate on specific projects. Organizations with similar goals and limited outside resources have an decreased chance of successful collaboration and increased likelihood of competition. In Pursat’s environment of distrust and political maneuvering, an incoming NGO seeking to function as a replacement for the government is least likely to be able to collaborate with NGOs already working within pre-existing frameworks. This paper concludes that perhaps it is not appropriate to focus our attention on collaboration, but instead resources should be directed to client capacity building and empowerment to make the beneficiaries true directors of the projects undertaken in their communities.


Policy Design, Analysis, and Evaluation


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