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Institutional Logics and the Multiorganizational Governance Arrangements of Humanitarian INGOs

Jun 27, 2022

Institutional Logics and the Multiorganizational Governance Arrangements of Humanitarian INGOs

Jonathan E. Beagles

Nonprofit Management & Leadership, March 2022

J. E. Beagles

J. E. Beagles


Governance within the growing number of multiorganizational international nongovernmental organization (INGO) families in the humanitarian sector is challenging. Ideas are evolving about what the objectives of humanitarian INGOs should be, what the most appropriate means of achieving these objectives are, and how best to demonstrate effectiveness and integrity to others. Within this context, scholars observe that choices in governance approaches are driven largely by internal politics within the bounds of legitimacy, leading some to refer to INGOs as principled-instrumentalists. However, we know little about the principles bounding these instrumental choices. Drawing from an institutional logics perspective, this paper compares the multiorganizational governance arrangements of 40 humanitarian INGO families with the values they espouse in their statements of values, principles, or beliefs. The idea being that these statements of values can serve as a window into the logics guiding organizational decision-making and provide the basis for how power is enacted and strategies chosen within these social settings. These findings have the potential to help leaders of multisite nonprofits make sense of the ways changing values, beliefs, and logics are prompting their organizations to reconsider how they balance inherent management tensions.