Interplast's Dilemma

By Chip Heath, James Phills
2006 | Case No. SI14
Established in the late 1960s, Interplast was the first international humanitarian organization to send American medical professionals overseas to provide free reconstructive surgery to children and adults in developing countries. Over the next 30 years, Interplast grew from an informal volunteer-led effort into a professional organization. By 2000, Interplast had over 2500 volunteers, had sponsored trips to 30 countries, and performed over 3000 surgeries each year. This case is intended to be used a background reading for the companion videocase, “The Evolution of Interplast,” which details the organization’s growth and the debates that arose as it began to shift its focus from direct service (sending surgeons and other medical professionals overseas provide reconstructive surgery) to education, (investing in training foreign doctors) and empowerment (providing resources and infrastructure) so that these local professionals could serve their own population. The videocase chronicles the debate over this shift as well as related policy decisions, raising issues of organizational evolution, strategic change, and nonprofit governance. This case has a video supplement. See also SI14V The Evolution of Interplast.
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