From shouting to counting: civil society and good governance reform in Cambodia

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This article explores the emergence of new spaces for civil society organisations (CSOs) as a result of an increasing interest by international donors in multi-stakeholder approaches to good governance under the 'new policy agenda'. Drawing upon a contemporary case study of civil society in Cambodia, it argues that CSOs have been encouraged to perform two key roles on a national level: professional service delivery agents and democratic watchdogs. Both roles are seen by donors as integral to supporting an accountable and professional model of the Cambodian state while drawing upon valuable private sector lessons in a synergetic model of governance. The result is the construction of particular neoliberal spaces for CSOs operating as technical implementation mechanisms in response to externally driven donor pressures. Furthermore, under this new framework of governance, CSOs face pressure to undergo internal transformation akin to new public management reform; embracing economistic and administrative modes of coordination as core values of civil society participation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-264
Number of pages24
JournalPacific Review
Issue number2
Early online date18 Feb 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2014


  • Cambodia
  • civil society
  • good governance
  • international development
  • neoliberalism
  • RCUK
  • ESRC


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