Non-Governmental and Not-for-Profit Organizational Effectiveness: A Structured Literature Review
Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations 23 (2), 434-457 (2012).
37 Pages Posted: 29 Aug 2011 Last revised: 16 Jun 2012
Date Written: September 16, 2010
While the issue of NGO/NPO effectiveness remains a prominent topic for scholars and practitioners, the literature on this topic is increasingly fragmented along disciplinary lines. We address this issue by presenting a comprehensive and interdisciplinary review of the literature on NGO and NPO effectiveness using citation analysis. In order to uncover communalities across disciplines concerned with questions of NPO/NGO effectiveness, we deploy a structured literature review using snowball sampling within citation networks. This approach limits author biases, fosters an interdisciplinary perspective, and adds a different methodological approach to conventional content-based literature reviews. Our review uncovers three trends: (1) there is broad scholarly consensus that uni-dimensional measures of effectiveness are not useful – even though such measures are commonly used by NGO/NPO rating agencies; (2) the scholarship on NGO/NPO effectiveness is dominated by conceptual works, while empirical studies remain rare; (3) a consensus on how to operationalize effectiveness remains elusive. These results suggest that progress in our understanding of NGO/NPO effectiveness requires crossing disciplinary divides, adding more empirical analyses, and increasing efforts to develop shared categories and methodologies.
Keywords: non-for-profit organizations, non-governmental organizations, structured literature review
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