Skärmavbild 2015-07-13 kl. 18.24.31

What does it take to be a changemaker?

Unhealthy organizational cultures, toxic and authoritative leadership, and an inability to translate our values into meaningful action. For those with experience from value-based organizations, one or more of these will likely be familiar features. To help bridge the divide between the worlds of academia and practice in the field of international development, Leicester University has published a reader with 1325 Policy Group’s Executive Director Emmicki Roos as one of the contributors. Her chapter raises the question: Are we the change we want to see?

Value-based organizations have and undisputed role as actors for change. But their internal life is often loosely or arbitrarily regulated. Too many CSOs and NGOs are marked by unsustainable working environments, wrecked internal democracy, and a gap between words and action. This newly published chapter brings to attention some of the most common behaviors, influencing the world of international development, that are counterproductive to the objective of achieving positive social change. It then continues by exploring the individual’s role as an agent in an organization working to achieve change.

Living the values we preach

The main argument is that as long as we are unable to implement the values we profess outwardly into our own organisations, we will never be able to truly transform the world we live in. Simply put; too often, we are not living our values, and achieving social change is all about values. Emmicki Roos argues that the reason why progress in the field of international development is so slow is often found in the organizations working for change themselves.

Throughout the years, many colleagues have borne witness to unhealthy practices in the women’s movement and civil society at large. It appears that there is often a disconnect between the cause we work for and how we treat our colleagues and employees.
(Researching and Working in Conflict-Affected Environments: A Reader, pp. 94)

Unhealthy organizational cultures, toxic and authoritative leadership, and an inability to translate values into meaningful action is probably more common in value-based organisations than most of would like to think. This chapter explores some of the most common types of organizational challenges and counterproductive behaviors and suggests strategies to combat these and create an environment that enables working for positive social change.

It may seem like a near impossible task to address an unhealthy organisational culture or transform toxic and authoritarian leadership, but it is not if we have the right tools and a clear vision. Moreover, the rewards will be significant both at the individual and organisational levels.
(Researching and Working in Conflict-Affected Environments: A Reader, pp. 100)

The full article can be downloaded here (starting on page 92 in the document).


Emmicki Roos is a member of the  University of Leicester Security, Conflict and International Development (SCID) Panel of Experts, comprised of 70 leading international experts in the field of conflict prevention, mitigation and recovery. The Panel was established in order to further enhance the learning experience of students, exposing them to the knowledge and views of a broad range of international experts working in the field of international development and peacebuilding.

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