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

Nina F. O’Brien, Andrew Pilny, Yannick C. Atouba, Michelle Shumate, Janet L. Fulk, Peter R. Monge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1229-1249
Number of pages21
JournalNonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The authors wish to acknowledge the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California for their financial support for this project.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2019.


  • NGOs
  • interorganizational collaboration
  • networks
  • partnering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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