Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Policy & Administration

First Advisor

William Jr. Bosher


The purpose of the study was to explore the definitions, benefits, and challenges of collaborations as used by nongovernmental organizations in their pursuit of public policy advocacy, and more specifically the role of NGOs as advocates in the public policy process. A qualitative design using a case study approach was used to examine the collaborative strategies and techniques used by the 12 statewide education NGO members of the Virginia Education Coalition in pursuit of their advocacy goals in public policy. The direction of this study was guided by the following questions: (1) What is collaboration, and when, how, and why it is used by nongovernment organizations to pursue advocacy goals? (2) What advocacy roles do nongovernment organizations play in public policy? (3) What collaborative strategies are used by nongovernment organizations to pursue advocacy goals? This study incorporates observations, in-depth interviews and a review of written documents. An interview guide consisting of 23 questions with probes and follow-ups was used as the primary data collection instrument. Each NGO was a case study in this multicase design. The study reveals that collaborations seem to exist in large part because of the personal relationships of NGO representatives and that advocacy positions and goals are pursued when commonality or consensus is achieved among collaborators. The subordination of individual interests to the interests of the Coalition is addressed in the study. The study found that NGOs enter into collaborations not only when it is mutually beneficial, but also in support of a greater cause. The need of NGOs in the Coalition to speak with a single voice far outweighs their desire to push their individual policy advocacy goals. This study contributes to the nonprofit sector in the literature and specifically addresses nonprofit collaboration and how collaborative strategies and techniques are used by NGOs to influence public policy. The findings of this study are useful for (1) NGO leaders to understand how to cultivate collaboration among leaders in other organizations, (2) the VEC to better understand their own member organizations, (3) coalitions in general to gain insights into the collaborative process.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

December 2009