How Does NGO Partnering Change Over Time? A Longitudinal Examination of Factors That Influence NGO Partner Selection

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. Scholars suggest three partnering strategies that nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) can use to pursue strategic relationships in civil society networks: (a) the development of overlapping ties associated with network closure, (b) adopting an intermediary role between two disconnected organizations associated with brokerage, and (c) complying with the match-making demands of third-party organizations. Collaborative relationships among 489 NGOs were examined over a 14-year period (1990-2004) to determine which of these strategies NGOs use and when. The network demonstrated a strong preference for closure at the beginning of the observation period, after which time partnerships settled into a more stable pattern of intra-sector collaboration after 1996. Brokerage and constrained-choice strategies were not prevalent at any point over the observation period. Results are discussed in terms of network evolution and implications of the observed NGO preferences for closure. The potential benefits of emergent stability are also discussed.

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