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The Authority TrapStrategic Choices of International NGOs$
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Sarah S. Stroup and Wendy H. Wong

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781501702143

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501702143.001.0001

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Authority and Audiences

Authority and Audiences

(p.24) 2 Authority and Audiences
The Authority Trap

Sarah S. Stroup

Wendy H. Wong

Cornell University Press

This is the theoretical chapter of the book. It outlines a theory of INGO authority, highlighting the importance of audiences and explaining the authority trap. Unlike states, INGOs are an authority, rather than in authority, where authority is defined as deference from a particular audience. Authority exists in the context of particular social relationships, in particular from the most important audiences for INGOs: states, corporations, and other INGOs. Very few INGOs successfully secure deference from multiple audiences; those that do are referred to as leading INGOs. Having received widespread deference, leading INGOs are constrained by the need to satisfy the varied values and preferences of their supporters, and thus find themselves in the authority trap, incentivized to make moderate choices.

Keywords:   authority, authority trap, audiences, deference, international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs), leading INGOs, vanilla victories

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