Managerialism and Beyond: Discourses of Civil Society Organization and Their Governance Implications

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Different disciplinary, theoretical, and empirical lenses have contributed to a kaleidoscopic picture of the governance of civil society organizations (CSOs). Most of the time, CSO governance is contrasted with corporate governance in business organizations; only rarely is the broad variety of CSOs taken into account. To widen this perspective, we develop an empirically grounded typology of five discourses of organization in CSOs: managerialist, domestic, professionalist, grassroots, and civic discourse. We argue that each of these discourses gives specific answers to the three core questions of governance: To whom is the CSO accountable, i.e., who are the key actors who need to be protected by governance mechanisms? For what kind of performance is the CSO accountable? And which structures and processes are appropriate to ensure accountability? The way in which different discourses answer these questions provides us with a deeper understanding of the reasons behind the manifold notions of governance in CSOs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)731 - 756
JournalVoluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2011

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