Please update your browser

You're using a version of Internet Explorer that isn't supported by Questia.
To get a better experience, go to one of these sites and get the latest
version of your preferred browser:

A Narrative Construction of the Organization by an External Party: The Nongovernmental Organization Narrative by the United Nations

By Topal, Cagri | Tamara Journal of Critical Organisation Inquiry, January 1, 2008 | Go to article overview

A Narrative Construction of the Organization by an External Party: The Nongovernmental Organization Narrative by the United Nations


Topal, Cagri, Tamara Journal of Critical Organisation Inquiry


ABSTRACT

The focus of this paper is the narrative construction of the nongovernmental organization (NGO) by the United Nations. How the NGO is conceptualized and communicated by a legitimate institution like the UN is critical for both the sustainability of NGOs and the social benefit created by them. This is because the allocation of resources to NGOs is directly affected by the understanding of what an NGO is. The data come from the 20 speeches of the 54th annual conference (2001) titled as 'NGOs today: Diversity of the Volunteer Experience' at the UN headquarters. The results of the study are derived from a critical reading of these 20 narratives. This is a procedure of reading the texts several times, back and forth. Through a participative process, the UN narratively constructs NGOs in terms of volunteerism, diversity, civil society, cooperation with governments, global problems, professionalism, and youth involvement. A preliminary theory of participative narrative construction is outlined.

INTRODUCTION AND RATIONALE

Organizations are social constructions by the interactions of people. Stories or narratives are one way of the member interaction and the resulting, ongoing, reconstruction (Humphreys and Brown, 2002a, 2002b; Pentlad, 1999). They define and redefine the organization and provide sensemaking resources for the members (Currie and Brown, 2003; Patriotta, 2003). Organizational narratives can be produced and diffused from within as well as imposed or communicated by an outside party (Watson and Bargilea-Chiappini, 1998). The external narrative may not directly determine the meaning of the organization but provide a specific framework to cultivate the meaning (Watson and Bargilea-Chiappini, 1998).

The focus of this paper is the narrative construction of the organization by an external party. I develop a preliminary theory of the participative narrative construction by an external party by applying and extending on past theory and research on narratives in organizations. Specifically, I look into the narrative of the nongovernmental organization (NGO) as constructed by the United Nations. In this study, NGOs are defined as self-governing, independent, and not-for-profit organizations that are geared to improving the quality of life of disadvantaged people (Vakil, 1997: 2060). I use the term narrative 'to refer to thematic, sequenced accounts that convey meaning from implied author to implied reader' (Barry and Elmes, 1997:431).

How NGOs are conceptualized and communicated is critical for both their sustainability and the social benefit they create (Cheng, 2005; Ebrahim, 2001; Leach, 2007). The allocation of resources to NGOs is directly affected by the understanding of what an NGO is. One of the primary supranational institutions, the UN is a powerful -external- stakeholder for many NGOs all around the world (Leach, 2007). NGOs are increasingly incorporated into the UN system through conferences and projects (Alger, 2002, 2003). In return, the UN is a 'major target' for NGOs to work with (Martens, 2004: 80). Already recognized as a legitimate organization by national governments, the UN provides its partner NGOs with entrance to different development sectors in different countries (Martens, 2004). It is also a means to communicate development discourses, the acceptance of which is generally a condition for funding (Ebrahim, 2001). In fact, 'the UN system plays a key role in supporting NGO institution building and in helping to direct associational energies into policy making' (Sollis1 1995: 539). Its definitions reflect the international consensus among the member nations. The UN is a primary reference for the donor organizations and the general public, which are likely to provide funding and support for NGOs, to understand the NGO activity. The UN agencies like UNDP and the World Bank are major supporters of NGOs (Makoba, 2002) and might direct their funds to particular NGOs, the practices of which reflect the dimensions of the UN narrative.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A Narrative Construction of the Organization by an External Party: The Nongovernmental Organization Narrative by the United Nations
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.