*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Building on Young’s (2000) explanation of state, market, and NGO arrangements cross-nationally, Bies (2010, 2012) used neo-institutional theory to predict professional self-regulation. Accordingly, in this paper we advance propositions derived from institutional perspective to explain NGOs’ decision to lead or participate in self-regulatory mechanisms.
Drawing on a large data set (involving a national survey and in-depth case studies of NGO-funder relationships) from an institutional field of NGOs in Lebanon’s civil society sector (in particular, an institutional field engaged in policy debates as well as direct service) and mapping a network diagram of these organizations and their stakeholders, the paper uses network analysis (Knoke and Yang 2008; Scott 2000) to verify that NGOs’ decision to self-regulate is the result of its interactions within the surrounding environment. Two forms of interactions are considered: formal partnerships that NGOs forge and networking bodies that NGOs join. We expect that partnerships and membership in networking bodies increase the probability of an NGO adopting self-regulation. We also expect that an NGO that is more central in a network of interaction to lead the process. Yet we also observe the role of funders in this self-regulation dynamic, which alternately affords greater NGO freedom and adds significant collective and individual constraints to autonomy. The paper compares results between the two forms of interaction in order to derive conclusions on the application of normative, relexive and coercive isomorphism to self-regulation. The paper adds rigor to prevailing views on NGO self-regulation, as well as in-depth study of a changing NGO sector, that of Lebanon. The paper also holds implications for other Arab nations, particularly for those settings in which NGO networks are held up as potential mechanisms to strengthen the NGO sector’s capacity, to build private philanthropy, to shape more favorable policy environments toward NGOs, or to legitimize the NGO space.