Micro-credit NGOs and Strategic Trust: An Odd Couple?

Business Ethics, the Environment and Responsibility 30 (3):360-377 (2021)
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This study contributes to the micro-credit literature by addressing the lack of philosophical dialogue concerning the issue of trust between micro-credit NGOs and rural poor women. The study demonstrates that one of the root causes of NGOs’ contested roles in Bangladesh is the norm that they use (i.e., trust) to rationalize their micro-credit activities. I argue that Bangladeshi micro-credit NGOs’ trust in poor village women is not genuine because they resort to group responsibility sustained through aggressive surveillance. I maintain so by drawing on a trust-based theoretical framework that uses various philosophical insights. Drawing on the same conceptual framework, I also contend, somewhat softening the previous claim, that if micro-credit trust is trust at all, it is at most strategic, not generalized. For being strategic, it has many undermining effects on local social solidarity norms, rendering Bangladeshi micro-credit NGOs and strategic trust an odd couple with no moral compass. To bring forth the moral impetus in micro-credit activities, I lay out some recommendations intended for organizations, managers, and policymakers, consistent with normative corporate social responsibility initiatives. However, further studies can be initiated based on this paper, suggesting its importance for future research.

Author's Profile

Kazi A S M Nurul Huda
University of Dhaka


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