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Explaining cooperation between IGOs and NGOs – push factors, pull factors, and the policy cycle

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 December 2012


The ever closer collaboration between intergovernmental organisations (IGOs) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) is empirically well described but poorly theorised. In this article I develop a general theoretical framework for analysing emergent patterns of cooperation between IGOs and NGOs, which may be used to generate hypotheses or guide comparatives studies. The starting point is a conception of organisational actors as purposeful but resource-dependent. The article then combines a ‘resource exchange perspective’ from organisational sociology with the model of a policy cycle from comparative politics. The result is a theoretical framework that allows to identify incentives for, as well as obstacles to, IGO-NGO cooperation along all phases of the policy cycle. In a concluding section the limits of this model and the underlying assumptions are discussed.

Copyright © British International Studies Association 2012 

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1 NGOs are defined here as non-state, non-profit-oriented organisations with voluntary membership. The NGOs in the focus of this article are, in the vast majority of cases, politically active in more than one country and sometimes called international NGOs (INGOs).

2 IGOs are organisations that have primarily, and often exclusively, states as members, are established by formal agreement, and have international legal status.

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