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Organizing pathways to peace: An exploratory study of intermediary nongovernmental organizations promoting peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland

John Martin Bruton, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This dissertation examines the organizational characteristics of support-level nongovernmental organizations (SNGOs). Described as the most important associational development of the twentieth century, SNGOs provide a link between two significant developments in management practice and theory. First is a call to extend management theory beyond its parochial roots and to redirect its focus toward cultural change and social justice. Second is an organizational revolution that is creating a global network of nongovernmental organizations. Examination of the characteristics of SNGOs offers opportunities to extend organizational theory into a new domain and to address issues of social justice, empowerment, and inclusion. The SNGOs considered in this research are nine Intermediary Funding Bodies (IFBs) included in the EU Peace Programme in Northern Ireland. The IFBs are an innovative mechanism for delivering EU funding directly to community organizations working to overcome conflict and division. Acting as intermediaries between the EU and community organizations on both sides of the prolonged conflict, the IFBs face a complex task of building bridges of peace in a turbulent and hostile environment. Q-methodology is used to explore the characteristics of the IFBs. More than thirty semi-structured interviews were conducted in Northern Ireland, and twenty-nine Q-sorts were completed by IFB staff and management. This data was analyzed using qualitative methods and factor analysis. Results are presented separately for the qualitative analysis of the interview data and the factor analysis of the Q-sort data. An additional chapter discusses and summarizes the combined findings. The results show the main factor determining organizational processes is the need to respond in two directions—upwards to funding agencies and downwards to community groups. This produces contradictory demands that are imported into the organizations as a set of internal tensions—legitimacy vs. independence, planning vs. responsiveness, control vs. autonomy, and accountability vs. flexibility. Different structures and capabilities have been developed by the IFBs to maintain organizational unity and integrity in response to these tensions. Four organization types are identified by the factor analysis. The characteristics of these types are discussed and it is argued that they represent different means for managing external tensions and maintaining internal control.

Subject Area

Management|Public administration

Recommended Citation

Bruton, John Martin, "Organizing pathways to peace: An exploratory study of intermediary nongovernmental organizations promoting peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland" (2003). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3096266.