1.2 Deciding on formalization

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 Description

This section will help you to weigh up whether you should formalize the VOPE or keep on running it as an informal network.

According to Kriel (2006), most VOPEs start as informal networks and only embark on a process of formalization once it becomes necessary. Rushing into premature formalization can cause the valuable resources of a VOPE to be caught up in bureaucratic systems and processes while neglecting the essential networking functions and services of a VOPE.  Some of the arguments for and against formalizing are presented below:

The Pros and Cons of an Informal Organizational Structure are:


Pros


Cons


Supports independence and autonomy of members


Limits accountability and (therefore) participation of members, since all participation remains voluntary


Is cost-effective and does not require substantial funding


Does not allow for formal financial procedures and resource administration (e.g. does not permit membership fees being charged and obstructs resource mobilization and fundraising


Accelerates decision-making processes


Depends heavily on the personality of the convenor for strategic decisions


Is flexible


Is fragile (e.g. does not allow for the firm anchoring of the organization in civil society)


Circumvents issues of control by external partners and supporters


Hinders extension and the establishment of secure partnerships


Simplifies functioning by allowing for decentralized systems and secretariat functions based on members’ initiative


Cannot hold management and administration structures accountable

 


Prior to formalization, it might be a good idea for your VOPE to build up a track record and support base by hosting one or two events such as an evaluation seminar, or a training session in partnership with another organization which is already established.  A university, or an international organization, or a government department or a ministry, or in some cases even an open and transparent consultancy can be an initial institutional home for an informal network of evaluators and evaluation users. Quite a few of the VOPEs in Africa evolved after the African Evaluation Association hosted conferences in association with local groups of persons involved in evaluation. SAMEA is one such organization that developed after the 2004 AfrEA conference was hosted in Cape Town with the support of an independent government watchdog body.

Although a host organization may be a good institutional home for an informal network of evaluators and evaluation users, questions of independence, representivity and openness may justify the decision to incorporate as a separate legal entity.

 

Mots-clés: 
Formalization, Founding

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