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Non-Governmental and Not-For-Profit Organizational Effectiveness: A Modern Synthesis
Voluntas (2012)
  • Jesse D. Lecy, Syracuse University
  • Hans Peter Schmitz, Syracuse University
  • Haley Swedlund, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen

NGO/NPO effectiveness remains a prominent concern for scholars and practitioners, but the literature on this issue is increasingly fragmented along disciplinary lines. We address this problem by presenting a comprehensive and interdisciplinary review of the literature on NGO and NPO effectiveness using citation analysis. In order to uncover commonalities across disciplines concerned with similar questions, 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 unidimensional 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 enhanced efforts at crossing disciplinary divides, adding empirical analyses, and increasing attention to develop shared categories and methodologies.

  • NGO effectiveness,
  • structured literature review
Publication Date
Citation Information
Jesse D. Lecy, Hans Peter Schmitz and Haley Swedlund. "Non-Governmental and Not-For-Profit Organizational Effectiveness: A Modern Synthesis" Voluntas Vol. 23 Iss. 2 (2012)
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