Policy arena: Moving forward research agendas on international NGOs: Theory, agency and context
This paper sets out an argument for moving forward research on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) within developnment studies. The body of research on NGOs that emerged from the late 1980s onwards focused primarily on NGO roles as development actors and their organisational attributes, but paid less attention to theory and context. While such research had many positive strengths, it was also criticised for its normative focus, and for its vulnerability to changing development fashions and donor preoccupations. Today, attitudes to NGOs have grown more complex and ambiguous, and the institutional landscape in which NGOs are embedded is undergoing rapid change. A new wave of NGO-related research is underway which gives particular emphasis to theory, agency, method and context. Such approaches have the potential to consolidate the field of NGO research within development studies as a more stable and theoretically-grounded subject area.