Contextualising partnerships for a developing third sector: Case study developments on researching networked NGO practices in Bulgaria
Bogdanova, Mariana (2010)

by Mariana Bogdanova

Commentators on the role of NGO and civil society have been concerned with contextualisation, interdependence, and recognition of diversity between systems governing the development of the third sector. The themes’ relevance to the East-West third sector partnerships and knowledge exchange in its transformational capacity. This is an opportunity for theory-building and re-conceptualisation of the sector in its beneficial capacity. Building on case study research on a Bulgarian NGO partnership with a UK based organisation conducted in 2004, the presentation is an account of the ongoing research into theory development on cross-organisational partnership. An initial “organisational mentoring” perspective in NGO relations between one experienced Western and one developing Eastern European environmental organisation has been revised to accommodate the diversity of organisational learning practices found in the continuing case research. These have implications for the selection of partners and managing the relationship between Western and East European actors.

The research is in data analysis stage following the field work in the summers of 2008/2009 in four Bulgarian NGOs selected for their respective partner arrangements with Western organisations and/or network membership. In the tradition of grounded theory approach and case study method, the collected qualitative data (interviews, text, and observations) are presented here to flesh out relevant themes to understanding the actors’ knowledge and learning perspectives and practices. The findings presented here address the research questions on the nature of organisational identity, their learning and knowledge-sharing practices and relevant institutional contexts to how NGOs sustain their practices. The focus is on the relevance of partnerships and networking with Western organisations to the NGOs’ development and functioning in the local context.

Mariana Bogdanova’s paper is available here (Powerpoint format).

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