City Research Online

The map defines the territory: Remodelling NGO partnerships for knowledge translation in transition contexts

Bogdanova, Mariana (2013). The map defines the territory: Remodelling NGO partnerships for knowledge translation in transition contexts. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


This thesis originates in a case study examining support within an international partnership, where findings were seen to diverge from conventional accounts of organisational dependence. Instead case findings pointed to an inter-dependency more alike to a ‘knowledge transfer’ relationship between a younger organisation learning about how to be a civil society actor form an older and more experienced third sector organisation. Starting with the classical literature on partnerships and collaboration in the third sector, using selected readings from the individual mentoring relationship found in career development research, and some of the current research into knowledge transfer and learning relevant to organisational development, the researcher constructs a framework to guide a multiple case study. The aim of the research is to explore the knowledge acquired by and learning occurring in the process of NGOs developing their identities and practices in a transition context in Bulgaria. The focus is on the learning and knowledge context, namely, the key relationships which Bulgarian NGOs have developed with western partner organisations.

The case fieldwork provides in-depth descriptions of four NGOs and their modes of engagement with western counterparts, explored with qualitative case methods and grounded theory. Multiple qualitative case study design and grounded theory approach to the analysis produces a rich description of themes. Each case responds to the posed research questions through data layering and within-case analysis, whereas cross-case analysis leads to the main thesis output. This is the taxonomy developed around three projections based on literature strands - organisational identity, learning and knowledge instances, and context-related factors embedding supportive exchanges with western partners. These themes are further developed into concepts and dimensions, differentiating various nuances of knowledge and learning practices within a partnership micro-context in a transition macro-context.

The primary contribution of the research is the framing of NGO partnerships around key concepts and dimensions across identity, learning and knowledge instances, and context-related factors. This sets the conditions for forming better informed relationships between organisations, which are, above all, more aware of each other’s complex information and knowledge practices. The primary direction for taxonomy development is towards a typology of inter-organisational partnerships focused on learning for practice. Specifically, key findings suggest a direction towards a partnership dynamic around the concept of a professional identity of third sector organisations, as well as around the managing of a dual credibility of NGOs faced with functioning within international networks whilst being embedded within local platforms. The resulting taxonomy offers links to various literature strands, presenting a complex picture of inter-organisational learning in transition settings. It is a contribution to voluntary sector partnership and collaboration theory, one the one hand, as it does not simplify either the NGO practices on the ground nor the inter-organisational relationship at the core of this NGO development.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Departments: Bayes Business School > Management
Doctoral Theses
Bayes Business School > Bayes Business School Doctoral Theses
[thumbnail of Bogdanova,_Mariana.pdf]
Download (6MB) | Preview


Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login