Review of The Authority Trap: Strategic Choices of International NGOs
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Sarah Stroup and Wendy Wong’s The Authority Trap: Strategic Choices of International NGOs is an important addition to a growing body of literature concerning the strategy and performance of international NGOs. The book focuses on a set of “leading INGOs” – the household names like Amnesty International, Greenpeace, and Oxfam – and examines how obtaining this status can both enable and constrain their strategic choices. Leading INGOs receive deference from multiple audiences and thus have authority in world politics (2). This authority can enhance advocacy. But it also constrains strategic options, the authors argue, causing leading INGOs to focus on broad-based appeal and “vanilla victories” (3). This constraint is what the authors call the “authority trap” (34).
The book begins by proposing a measurement strategy to identify those groups that qualify as “an authority” to the public, policy-makers, peers, and corporations (44). By combining measures of authority in these four...