In recent years, economic globalization has been increasingly associated with human rights and environmental harms in developing countries. In seeking to build organizations that can address harms locally where they occur, and globally where decisions and policies are made, NGO managers must assemble and lead multicultural teams, and learn to maximize the benefits of diversity, minimize its deficits, and effectively harness its power. This paper explores in depth the experience of one international organization, EarthRights International (ERI), established with the stated goal of creating a new model for global human rights and environmental advocacy in the age of economic globalization. The experience of ERI is analyzed through the lens of selected academic literature, using a qualitative research method with an emphasis on in depth practitioner’s reflection, observation and interviews over a 10 year period. It explores ways in which NGO leaders can channel the power of their staff and their own inner power, and provides concrete lessons and guidance for NGO leaders working in this field. The paper concludes that NGOs working for social and environmental justice in the context of globalization should adopt a “learning and effectiveness paradigm” of diversity in conjunction with the adoption of a transformational leadership style to motivate diverse staff. Finally, the paper provides a roadmap through which NGOs can transform the current paradigm of globalization by reflecting their own vision for the world—a world that values the participation of all global voices—in their own internal systems, structures and operations.


Politics and Social Change