Seeking Theory for INGOs

This paper is a summary of the search for an adequate theory for the research of the World Alliance of YMCAs. It argues that, in order to find theory for international non-governmental organisations (INGO), one must combine the ‘pearls’ from nonprofit organisation studies (NPO), social movement studies(SM), religious movement studies(RM) and world view studies(WV). Both NPO studies and SM studies underline the importance of religion or ideology in formation of the NPOs and social movement organisations (SMO). Only SM and RM studies try to focus the impact of this ideology but they also take the concept of WV as given. This leads to look closer the concept of WV.

The paper refers shortly to the main theories of these four research fields and formulates a general theory for INGOs.

The main components of an INGO can be seen as nested circles. From centre out they are: world view, organisational structure, members and adherents, organisational environment. The three latest can be seen as opportunity structures (OS) of an organisation. WV consists of identity, mission and belief system. These along with OS interact with each other and changes in one component cause potential change in others. This model fits as well to the emerge (role) of organisations as the growth (behaviour) of it.

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last modified 9.4.1999