Internal Affairs: How the Structure of NGOs Transforms Human Rights (Paperback)
  • Internal Affairs: How the Structure of NGOs Transforms Human Rights (Paperback)

Internal Affairs: How the Structure of NGOs Transforms Human Rights (Paperback)

Paperback 272 Pages / Published: 27/10/2014
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Why are some international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) more politically salient than others, and why are some NGOs better able to influence the norms of human rights? Internal Affairs shows how the organizational structures of human rights NGOs and their campaigns determine their influence on policy. Drawing on data from seven major international organizations-the International Committee of the Red Cross, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Medecins sans Frontieres, Oxfam International, Anti-Slavery International, and the International League of Human Rights-Wendy H. Wong demonstrates that NGOs that choose to centralize agenda-setting and decentralize the implementation of that agenda are more successful in gaining traction in international politics.Challenging the conventional wisdom that the most successful NGOs are those that find the "right" cause or have the most resources, Wong shows that how NGOs make and implement decisions is critical to their effectiveness in influencing international norms about human rights. Building on the insights of network theory and organizational sociology, Wong traces how power works within NGOs and affects their external authority. The internal coherence of an organization, as reflected in its public statements and actions, goes a long way to assure its influence over the often tumultuous elements of the international human rights landscape.

Publisher: Cornell University Press
ISBN: 9780801479793
Number of pages: 272
Weight: 369 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 15 mm


"Offers fascinating and important insights into the impact of intra-organizational dynamics on international politics. It deserves to be read widely by scholars and students interested in NGOs, advocacy networks and organizational theory."

-- Angela M. Crack * Voluntas *

"Political scientist Wendy Wong's Internal Affairs offers an important empirical approach that focuses on the organizational structure of internationally oriented NGOs all headquartered in the global North to explain why they, and the issues that they do promote, are not equally influential in terms of their impact on human rights.... [Wong] examines a variety of transnational campaigns as a separate unit of observation for comparative analysis, enabling her to independently assess the political salience of the ideas that these organizations sponsor."

-- John G. Dale * American Journal of Sociology *

"What makes a human right relevant on the world stage? Is it its inherent moral value? Or is its relevance a product of marketing, funding, or the magnetic capabilities of a charismatic leader? Internal Affairs suggests we turn our attention to the structural design of NGOs in order to understand what distinguishes those human rights issues that are championed as international concerns from those that barely make a ripple. At the crux of this well written and easily assignable text stands the notion that the success of a rights-campaign hinges on its structure. The book will be a valuable contribution to the scholarly libraries of anthropologists, political scientists, and international relations experts, while also serving as an indispensable tool for rights-based practitioners."

-- Erica Bornstein * Human Rights Quarterly *

"Wong's prose is clear and well organized, her evidence carefully presented, and her argument compelling. Researchers in political science, international relations, sociology, anthropology, and public policy, as well as those engaged in human rights activism will welcome the theoretical and substantive contributions of Internal Affairs."

* Mobilization *

"In this lucid and important analysis, Wendy Wong advances us well beyond standard accounts of norms into the world of organizational realities. By using a highly informative comparative lens, she challenges us to link the structure of international NGOs of various kinds to their political salience, illustrating with rich empirical examples how organizational dynamics impact on success and failure in the pursuit of human dignity."

-- Stephen HopgoodSOAS, University of London, author of Keepers of the Flame: Understanding Amnesty International

"Scholars know not all advocacy organizations are equally influential: some are more central, more powerful, and more 'salient' within advocacy networks, affecting their power over the global agenda. But until now it's been less clear how NGO `superpowers' come to occupy this status. In this path-breaking book, Wendy Wong provides an answer: transnational change agents make deliberate choices in terms of their organizational structure. She teases out how this affects their prominence as organizations within the wider advocacy networks and their subsequent influence at exporting specific ideas to the global community. This important work will enrich scholarship on NGOs, advocacy networks, and global agenda-setting and is a must-read by students and scholars of global civil society."

-- R. Charli Carpenter, UMass Amherst, author of Forgetting Children Born of War: Setting the Human Rights Agenda in Bosnia and Beyond

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