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In 2000, Oxfam America, an international relief and development organization, launched itself on a bold new course. A small but respected agency, it had devoted itself for three decades to supporting partner organizations in developing countries throughout the world, funding a variety of grassroots activities. Now, under the leadership of its president, Raymond Offenheiser, Oxfam America had joined with eleven other Oxfams worldwide to become a global campaigning force that would focus on challenging the policies and practices of governments and corporations that harmed the poor. The new initiative was in keeping with Offenheiser's belief that it was time for the international development community to move beyond the welfare model of service delivery and embrace an approach that took aim at structural impediments that kept impoverished people from improving their lot. But the commitment to becoming a global campaigning organization would pose new challenges for Offenheiser and his senior managers. Within Oxfam America, the campaign work put new pressures on the organization's staff and resources. Some staff members, particularly those who worked with partner organizations in the field, found the campaign work onerous and, in some cases, irrelevant, and worried that Oxfam America's grassroots work in its regional offices was losing its primacy in the agency.

Learning Objective:
This case can be used as a vehicle for discussion of organizational change in the face of internal disagreement as to goals, and the leadership role necessary in such a context.

Other Details

Case Author:
Esther Scott
Faculty Lead:
David Brown
Pages (incl. exhibits):
United States