Promoting Development in Weak Institutional Environments: The Understanding and Transmission of Sustainability by NGOS in Latin America

  • Matthias S. Fifka
  • Anna-Lena Kühn
  • Cristian R. Loza Adaui
  • Markus Stiglbauer
Original Paper

Abstract

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are a major institutional force in promoting sustainable development, especially in institutional environments where governments have often not been able to assume the role of development agent. Despite this importance, the approach of Latin American NGOs to sustainability has received only little attention so far and respective research is scarce. To address this research gap, we conducted an online survey of 306 Latin American NGOs, investigating their understanding of sustainability and how they seek to transmit it. Due to the lack of previous empirical studies, our study is exploratory in nature and examines eight research categories: (1) NGOs definition of sustainability; (2) the role they see for themselves in its promotion, (3) dimensions of sustainability judged as important, (4) stakeholders and (5) partners considered, (6) motives for pursuing sustainability, (7) forms of implementation, and (8) measures regarded as necessary for spreading it further. Our findings are discussed against the institutional environment of Latin America, as we assume that the understanding and transmission of sustainability is contextual in nature. Our study shows that the sustainability concept of the sample NGOs is broad and that they take a wide variety of efforts for implementing it. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses confirmed the reliability and validity of the eight-component-model we applied for our study. Thus, it serves as a valuable starting point for future research into the “terra incognita” of Latin American NGOs’ approach to sustainability.

Keywords

Sustainability Non-governmental organization (NGO) Latin America Institutional theory 

Résumé

Les organisations non gouvernementales (ONG) représentent une force institutionnelle majeure dans la promotion du développement durable, surtout dans les milieux institutionnels où les gouvernements ont rarement été en mesure d’assumer le rôle d’agent du développement. Malgré cette importance, l’approche des ONG latines américaines face à la durabilité n’a reçu qu’une attention mitigée à ce jour, et les recherches connexes se font rares. Pour combler cette brèche, nous avons mené un sondage en ligne auprès de 306 ONG latines américaines portant sur leur compréhension du concept de durabilité et la façon dont elles entendent le transmettre. Puisque les études empiriques antérieures sont insuffisantes, notre étude est de nature exploratoire et se penche sur huit catégories de recherche : 1) la définition que les ONG donnent à la durabilité; 2) le rôle qu’elles jugent jouer dans sa promotion; 3) les dimensions de la durabilité considérées importantes; 4) les intervenants; et 5) partenaires potentiellement impliqués; 6) les motifs avancés pour la quête de la durabilité; 7) les formes de mise en œuvre; et 8) les mesures jugées nécessaires pour l’émanciper davantage. Nos résultats sont exposés dans le contexte du milieu institutionnel de l’Amérique latine, car nous présumons que la compréhension et la transmission du concept de durabilité sont de nature contextuelle. Notre étude démontre que le concept de durabilité des ONG interrogées est vaste et qu’elles adoptent une grande variété d’initiatives pour le mettre en œuvre. Les analyses factorielles exploratoires et confirmatoires corroborent la fiabilité et la validité du modèle à huit facettes appliqué à notre étude. Il se pose donc comme point de départ utile pour les recherches ultérieures sur la « terra incognita » qu’est l’approche des ONG latines américaines face à la durabilité.

Zusammenfassung

Nicht-staatliche Organisationen sind eine wichtige institutionelle Kraft zur Förderung nachhaltiger Entwicklung, insbesondere in institutionellen Umfeldern, in denen Regierungen oftmals nicht in der Lage sind, die Rolle eines Entwicklungsbeauftragten zu übernehmen. Trotz dieser Bedeutung erhielt der Nachhaltigkeitsansatz lateinamerikanischer nicht-staatlicher Organisationen bislang nur wenig Aufmerksamkeit, und es mangelt an entsprechenden Forschungsarbeiten. Um diese Forschungslücke zu schließen, führten wir eine Online-Befragung durch, in der 306 lateinamerikanische nicht-staatliche Organisationen zu ihrem Verständnis von Nachhaltigkeit befragt wurden und dazu, wie sie dies umzusetzen versuchen. Aufgrund mangelnder empirischer Studien handelt es sich bei unserer Arbeit um eine explorative Studie, in der acht Forschungskategorien untersucht werden: 1) die Definition von Nachhaltigkeit seitens nicht-staatlicher Organisationen, 2) die Rolle, die sie sich selbst im Rahmen der Nachhaltigkeitsförderung zuschreiben, 3) Nachhaltigkeitsbereiche, die als wichtig erachtet werden, 4) erwogene Stakeholder und 5) Partner, 6) Motive für die Verfolgung von Nachhaltigkeit, 7) Umsetzungsformen und 8) notwendig erachtete Maßnahmen zur ihrer Ausweitung. Unsere Ergebnisse werden vor dem Hintergrund des institutionellen Umfelds in Lateinamerika diskutiert, da wir davon ausgehen, dass das Verständnis und die Umsetzung der Nachhaltigkeit kontextabhängig sind. Unsere Studie zeigt, dass das Nachhaltigkeitskonzept der ausgewählten nicht-staatlichen Organisationen weitreichend ist und sie diverse Anstrengungen unternehmen, um es umzusetzen. Explorative und konfirmatorische Faktorenanalysen bestätigten die Zuverlässigkeit und Gültigkeit des Acht-Komponenten-Modells, das wir in unserer Studie anwendeten. Es dient demnach als wertvoller Ausgangspunkt für zukünftige Forschungen in der „Terra incognita“des Nachhaltigkeitsansatzes lateinamerikanischer nicht-staatlicher Organisationen.

Resumen

Las organizaciones no gubernamentales (ONG/NGO) son una fuerza institucional importante en la promoción del desarrollo sostenible, especialmente en entornos institucionales en los que los gobiernos a menudo no han podido asumir el papel de agente de desarrollo. A pesar de esta importancia, el enfoque de las ONG latinoamericanas con respecto a la sostenibilidad ha recibido únicamente poca atención hasta ahora y la investigación correspondiente es escasa. Para abordar esta brecha de la investigación, realizamos una encuesta online de 306 ONG latinoamericanas, investigando su comprensión de la sostenibilidad y cómo tratan de transmitirla. Debido a la falta de estudios empíricos previos, nuestro estudio es exploratorio por naturaleza y examina ocho categorías de investigación: 1) definición de sostenibilidad por parte de las ONG; 2) papel que ven para sí en su promoción, 3) dimensiones de sostenibilidad consideradas importantes, 4) partes interesadas y 5) socios considerados, 6) motivos para proseguir con la sostenibilidad, 7) formas de implementación, y 8) medidas consideradas como necesarias para ampliar su propagación. Se analizan nuestros hallazgos frente al entorno institucional de Latinoamérica, ya que asumimos que la comprensión y transmisión de la sostenibilidad es contextual por naturaleza. Nuestro estudio muestra que el concepto de sostenibilidad de las ONG de la muestra es amplio y que realizan una amplia variedad de esfuerzos para implementarla. Los análisis confirmatorios y exploratorios confirmaron la fiabilidad y la validez del modelo de ocho componentes que aplicamos para nuestro estudio. De este modo, sirve como un valioso punto de arranque para investigaciones futuras en la “terra incognita” del enfoque de las ONG latinoamericanas con respecto a la sostenibilidad.

摘要

非政府组织 (NGO) 是促进可持续发展的主要机构力量,尤其对于政府通常无法承担发展机构责任的制度环境。尽管非常重要,但到目前为止,对拉丁美洲NGO为可持续性采取的方法的关注很少,各自研究稀缺。为填补这一研究空白,我们对306家拉丁美洲NGO进行了网上调查,以了解他们对可持续性的理解,以及寻求推广的方式。由于缺少早期的经验调查,因此本次研究本质上是探索性的,检查了八个研究类别:1) NGO可持续性定义;2) 他们对推广所扮演角色的认知;3) 被视为重要的可持续性维度;4) 利益相关方和5) 考虑的伙伴关系;6) 追求可持续性的动机;7) 实施形式和 8) 对于进一步推广非常必要的措施。我们的调查结果基于拉丁美洲的制度环境,因为我们假定可持续性的了解和推广本质上存在前后关系。我们的研究表明,NGO样本的可持续性概念非常广泛,耗费花费范围广泛的精力来实施。探索性确认因素分析确认了为研究应用的八组件模型的可靠性和有效性。由此,这将作为未来研究拉丁美洲NGO可持续性方法“terra incognita”的宝贵起点。

要約

非政府組織 (NGO) は、持続可能な開発促進では主要な制度上の力となる。政府が開発エージェントの役割を担わない機関の環境においては特にそうである。これが重要であるにもかかわらず、ラテンアメリカのNGOのアプローチでの持続可能性は、これまでのところだけあまり注目を集めてこなかったし、それぞれの研究が不足している。本研究のギャップに対処するために、ラテンアメリカのNGOによる306件のオンライン調査を実施して、持続可能性への理解と伝達方法について調査した。既存の経験的調査不足のために、本研究では自然探索と次の8つの研究カテゴリーを調査する。1) NGOにおける持続可能性の定義、2)促進における自分たちの役割、3)重要だと判断される持続可能性の側面、4)利害関係者、5)重要なパートナー、6)持続可能性を追求するための動機、7)フォームの実施、8)さらに広めるため必要と認められる措置である。持続可能性に対する理解と伝達は本質的に文脈的であるとみなされるために、調査結果ではラテンアメリカの制度的環境に対して説明する。NGOのサンプルでの持続可能性の概念は広範であり、それを実践するためのさまざまな努力を行っていることを本研究は示している。調査および確証的因子分析では、信頼性と本研究で適用した8つのコンポーネント・モデルの妥当性を確認した。したがって、持続可能性に対するラテンアメリカのNGOのアプローチにおける「未知の分野」は今後の研究の貴重な出発点として機能する。

ملخص

المنظمات الغير حكومية (NGOs) هي قوة مؤسسية رئيسية في تعزيز التنمية المستدامة، خصوصا” في البيئات المؤسسية حيث الحكومات غالبا “ كثيرا” تكون غيرقادرة على القيام بدور ممثل التنمية. على الرغم من هذه الأهمية، تلقى نهج المنظمات الغير حكومية (NGOs) الأمريكية اللاتينية للإستدامة القليل من الإهتمام فقط حتى الآن والبحوث الخاصة بها نادرة. لمعالجة هذه الفجوة البحثية، أجرينا إستطلاع رأي على الإنترنت من 306 منظمة غير حكومية (NGOs) أمريكية لاتينية، تحقيق في فهمهم للإستدامة وكيف أنهم يسعون إلى نقله. نظرا” لعدم وجود دراسات تجريبية سابقة، دراستنا إستطلاعية في طبيعتها، وتفحص ثماني فئات بحث: 1) تعريف المنظمات الغير حكومية للإستدامة؛ 2) الدور الذي يرون لأنفسهم في تعزيزه، 3) أبعاد الإستدامة تم الحكم عليها كمهمة ، 4) أصحاب المصلحة و5) تم أخذ الشركاء في الإعتبار، 6) الدوافع لمتابعة الإستدامة، 7) أشكال التنفيذ، و8) إجراءات تعتبر ضرورية لنشرها أكثر من ذلك. تم مناقشة النتائج التي توصلنا إليها إلى جانب البيئة المؤسسية من أمريكا اللاتينية، نحن نفترض أن التفاهم ونقل الإستدامة سياقي بطبيعته. أظهرت دراستنا أن مفهوم الإستدامة لعينة من المنظمات الغير حكومية (NGO) واسع وإنه يتخذ مجموعة متنوعة واسعة من جهود لتنفيذ ذلك. عامل إكتشاف وتأكيد التحليلات أكد ثبات وصدق للثمانية مكونات لنموذج طبقناة لدراستنا. هكذا، فإنه بمثابة نقطة إنطلاق ذات قيمة للبحث في المستقبل في “مجهول غير مكتشف” من نهج المنظمات الغير حكومية (NGO) الأمريكية اللاتينية في تحقيق الاستدامة.

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Copyright information

© International Society for Third-Sector Research and The Johns Hopkins University 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthias S. Fifka
    • 1
  • Anna-Lena Kühn
    • 2
  • Cristian R. Loza Adaui
    • 1
  • Markus Stiglbauer
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Economics, Chair of Business AdministrationUniversity of Erlangen-Nuernberg (FAU)ErlangenGermany
  2. 2.Department for Corporate Governance, School of Business and EconomicsUniversity of Erlangen-Nuernberg (FAU)NuernbergGermany

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