NGOs and management studies

Authored by: David Lewis

Routledge Handbook of NGOs and International Relations

Print publication date:  April  2019
Online publication date:  April  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138285507
eBook ISBN: 9781315268927
Adobe ISBN:


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Management science has paid relatively little attention to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and likewise the field of management proved a somewhat neglected area of scholarship among researchers interested in NGOs. Management studies has mainly centred on the for-profit business sector, and to some extent on public administration. It is only comparatively recently that more attention has been paid to the non-profit or “third” sector family of organisations. Social science scholarship has mainly been focused on the roles that NGOs play in relation to human rights, international development and environmental activism and to questions of whether and how they are “making a difference” to these fields. This has generally been at the expense of trying to better understand how they are constituted as organisations and how they work. Finally, in the world of practice NGOs themselves have often had an ambiguous relationship with the issue of management. While policy and funding pressures might have been expected to focus attention on management issues in NGOs, these pressures have tended to lead to the prioritisation of narrow questions of evaluation and impact than on issues of management more generally. For all these complex reasons, the relationship between NGOs and management is far from straightforward, and the issues require careful disentangling.

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