Written jointly by Jesse D. Lecy (Georgia State University), Haley Swedlund (Radboud University, Nijmegen), and Hans Peter Schmitz, the article 'Non-Governmental and Not-for-Profit Organizational Effectiveness: A Modern Synthesis' has been accepted for publication by Voluntas. International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations. The article provides a structured and interdisciplinary literature review on the topic of not-for-profit effectiveness.
Abstract: While the issue of NGO/NPO effectiveness remains a prominent topic for scholars and practitioners, the literature on this topic is increasingly fragmented along disciplinary lines. We address this issue by presenting a comprehensive and interdisciplinary review of the literature on NGO and NPO effectiveness using citation analysis. In order to uncover communalities across disciplines concerned with questions of NPO/NGO effectiveness, 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 uni-dimensional 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 crossing disciplinary divides, adding more empirical analyses, and increasing efforts to develop shared categories and methodologies.