About the Book

The Hedgehog and the Beetle – Disruption and Innovation in the Civil Society Sector

By Burkhard Gnärig


The Hedgehog and the Beetle – Disruption and Innovation in the Civil Society Sector book coverHighly successful, widely trusted and globally applauded, international civil society organisations (ICSOs) such as Oxfam, Greenpeace and Amnesty International are major players on the global stage. However, fundamental change in the outside world threatens their role and future existence: Shrinking space for civic participation hinders their work in many countries; climate change, persistent poverty and growing inequality make it harder for them to achieve their missions; and the rise of the internet disrupts their business models.

At the same time ICSOs are needed more than ever. As humanity reaches and increasingly oversteps the limits of the resources our planet provides and the pollution it absorbs we urgently have to embark on the transition towards a sustainable, fair and equitable world. Governments on their own will not be able to undertake this transition. Effective civil society organisations have to help charting the way, setting positive examples and bringing citizens on board.

The Hedgehog and the Beetle describes the key features of effective global civil society organisations and charts the journey today’s ICSOs have to undertake to turn themselves into successful drivers of the transition.

Click here to buy the book or read it online using the index to the right.

About the Author

Burkhard-Gnaerig-D_I-website1-e1427473088586 Burkhard Gnärig has 30 years of experience with international cooperation and the management of civil society organisations. Burkhard was the CEO of Save the Children International, Greenpeace Germany, and terre des hommes Germany. As a field director in Papua New Guinea, he represented the German Development Service. He is a co-founder and former Executive Director of the International Civil Society Centre.


‘The Hedgehog and the Beetle’ makes an important contribution to our thinking about the future of civil society. I hope that it will help our common quest for fit-for-purpose and time relevant solutions in the civil society sector.
–Cobus de Swardt, Managing Director, Transparency International

A very visionary, eloquent and important book. I trust it has already received ample discussion and hopefully action within the Field.
–Charles MacCormack, former CEO, Save the Children USA

This is a disruptive book about disruptive change. It unhinges any complacency the reader might be holding onto in order to make the point that incremental improvement of the ICSO’s operating model is no longer sufficient. Nothing short of dramatic reconstruction will suffice.
–Daryl Conner, Author / Chairman, Conner Advisory

Insider experience and self-critical reflection provide practical analysis of what might befall these organisations if they do not make the substantial changes needed to deal with the disruptive forces they face… The Hedgehog and the Beetle talks from and to the life worlds of ICSOs. A clear plus.
–Alan Fowler, Emeritus professor, Erasmus University (The Hague)

It’s a fascinating read, and you have pointed out an area that we all should have seen coming. 
–Paul Okumu, Head of Secretariat, Africa Platform

Great read… my whole exec team is reading it! Thank you for doing this.
–Pierre Ferrari, CEO, Heifer International


Copyright © 2015 by Burkhard Gnärig
Published by: International Civil Society Centre

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the expressed written permission of the publisher and the author except for the use of brief quotations in a book review or scholarly journal.

ISBN 978-1-326-15094-5
Language: English
Pages: 256
Format: Paperback and E-book
Weight: 0.44 kg
Dimensions (cm): 14.81 x 20.98
Retail price: €18.90 (paperback) / €10.80 (e-book)

Editing: Victoria Redmond
Cover design: Christoph Kellner
Layout: Tanja Lemke-Mahdavi