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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

Jesse D. Lecy

Maxwell School of Syracuse University; Georgia State University - Andrew Young School of Policy Studies

Hans Peter Schmitz

University of San Diego

Haley Swedlund

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: September 16, 2010

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Lecy, Jesse D. and Schmitz, Hans Peter and Swedlund, Haley, Non-Governmental and Not-for-Profit Organizational Effectiveness: A Structured Literature Review (September 16, 2010). Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations 23 (2), 434-457 (2012).. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1918955

Jesse D. Lecy

Maxwell School of Syracuse University ( email )

400 Eggers Hall
Syracuse, NY 13244
United States

Georgia State University - Andrew Young School of Policy Studies ( email )

Public Management and Policy
35 Broad Street, 6th Floor
Atlanta, GA 30303-3083
United States

Hans Peter Schmitz (Contact Author)

University of San Diego ( email )

5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110-2492
United States

Haley Swedlund

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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