Strengthening Institutional Isomorphism in Development NGOs? Program Mechanisms in an Organizational Intervention
Kontinen, T., & Onali, A. (2017). Strengthening Institutional Isomorphism in Development NGOs? Program Mechanisms in an Organizational Intervention. SAGE open, 7 (1). doi:10.1177/2158244016688725
Published inSAGE open
© The Author(s) 2017. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of a Creative Commons License.
Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in international development struggle between being actors in the mainstream or representatives of alternatives to it. However, many NGOs all over the world align with the mainstream and are increasingly similar to each other. This homogenization results from institutional isomorphism, which is affected by their aspirations to be legitimate vis-á-vis the international field. Consultancies are among the main practices to promote normative isomorphism, but little is known about their micro-level dynamics. Drawing on the notion of program mechanisms in realistic evaluation, we scrutinize how external facilitators in organizational development processes enable normative isomorphism. As a result of analysis of interventions in three Finnish development NGOs, we identify program mechanisms of convincing, embedding, and consolidating. Our findings show how organizational development activities contribute to the direction of change toward normative isomorphism and argue that a detailed analysis of intervention mechanisms would be useful for self-reflection in any field of activity. ...