NGO Cooperation and Involvement Across Multi-level Policy Processes

1 / 2007
Melissa Schnyder


A growing body of research focuses on the expanding roles of NGOs in global and supranational governance. The research emphasizes the increasing number of participation patterns of NGOs in policymaking and cross-national cooperation. It has produced important insights into the evolving political role of NGOs and their growing involvement in governance. The focus on activities at a transnational level has, however, lead to the virtual exclusion of research on other levels of governance. It has not been possible to tell whether the locus of their political activity is shifting from the national to the transnational environment, or whether it is simply broadening. Missing from the literature is an examination of the variety of cooperative relationships, including those between NGOs, which impact policy involvement across different levels of governance. To bridge this gap, I address two key questions: 1) Is the strategy of cooperation among NGOs a common feature of social movement activity across levels of governance, and if so, what does the structure of cooperation look like? 2) What impact, if any, does cooperation have on the expanding political involvement of NGOS, both within and across levels of governance? Using data from an original survey of migrant and refugee organizations across much of Europe, I test several hypotheses that shed light on these issues. The findings broadly indicate that 1) Cooperation is a widely-used strategy across levels of governance, 2) Cooperation with specific sets of actors increases the likelihood of NGO involvement at different levels of governance. Specifically, cooperation with EU-level actors increases the likelihood of national-level involvement, and 3) NGOs are more likely to extend their involvement across a range of institutions if they cooperate with a broad range of actors.

About the Author

Melissa Schnyder works as a quantitative consultant at Corporate Executive Board. She holds a PhD from Indiana University Bloomington. She worked at the Institute for European Studies as a Fullbright Fellow between September 2005 – April 2006, focusing on the inclusion of migrant interests in the EU and the patterns of political behaviour across levels of governance.