University of Oulu

Understanding NGO professionals’ perceptions of the significance of their work

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Author: Roy Chowdhury, Chandril1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Educational Sciences
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.8 MB)
Pages: 89
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : C. Roy Chowdhury, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-06-18
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Paradis, Audrey
Reviewer: Paradis, Audrey


The inception of this study stems from my past experiences as a professional in a nongovernmental organisation (NGO) within the education sector. The work of NGOs is a critical part of the education landscape of India and in that regard their significance is often documented as a collective, with little or no consideration of their member professionals. Developmental work is slow and difficult, no less in the context of disadvantaged sections of society, and it is the NGO professional who, as the fundamental unit of an NGO, is directly relating to it. To that extent, this study is grounded in understanding how NGO professionals perceive the significance of their work.

The research process broadly adheres to the interpretivist paradigm and using the methodological framework of phenomenography explores the variations in perceptions of ten NGO professionals of the significance of their work. These variations formed the basis for the construction of the outcome space which represented the distinct categories of description of the experiences of the significance of their work. In this regard, there were two overarching categories within which the professionals perceived the phenomenon in question, Personal significance and Professional significance. The former emphasised how the significance of work was felt at the personal level, while the latter explicitly addressed how they related to it at the professional level. These two ways of understanding the significance of work were established in further detail within smaller and more specific categories of description. The relevance and meaning of the findings were developed in relation to concepts pertaining to career choice, social justice, impact of NGOs, professional identity and significance of work.

This study provides a fresh take on the significance of work privileging the voices of NGO professionals. In that, the study puts forth a framework by which working professionals may judge the significance of their work and organisations may reform their structures to improve the overall significance of work as experienced by their employees. More importantly, it develops the critical position of the NGO professional in relation to educational development.

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Copyright information: © Chandril Roy Chowdhury, 2020. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.