Date of Award

Fall 1-8-2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Management and Policy

First Advisor

Dr. Dennis R. Young

Second Advisor

Dr. Janelle A. Kerlin

Third Advisor

Dr. Gordon A. Kingsley

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Jorge L. Martinez-Vazquez

Fifth Advisor

Dr. John C. Thomas


Using a qualitative multiple case study methodology, this study explores the relationship between government funding and INGO autonomy in three INGOs through resource dependence and tool choice frameworks. Adapting Verhoest, Peters et al.'s (2004) conceptualization of organizational autonomy as the extent of an organization's decision making capacity in matters concerning agency operations and human resource and financial management; this research regards the authors second definition of financial, structural, legal, and interventional constraints not as types of autonomy per se, but as the mechanisms through which INGOs' actual use of their decision making competencies is constrained. The findings in this research suggest that relative to other funding sources, government funding disproportionately impacts INGOs' operational and managerial autonomy. This is largely accomplished through various ex ante and ex post constraints such as, rules and regulations on inputs allocation and use, performance controls and evaluation requirements attached to government funding. This research also finds that the tool of choice used by government to finance INGO activities also steer, direct and influence INGO grantees' decisions thus positioning INGOs to incorporate government policy interests, preferences and priorities. However, INGOs can exercise their autonomy through various strategies ranging from program design, contract negotiation, and participation in advisory groups.