Profiting from non-profit alliances? An analysis of strategic alliances between humanitarian NGO′s.

Philip Sieling-Monas

Student thesis: Master thesis


This project was conducted as a master′s thesis at Copenhagen Business School in 2012. Setting out to investigate cross-border strategic alliances between humanitarian non-governmental organizations (NGO) the thesis is concerned with the establishment and maintenance of these alliances, the resources that are gained and applied within them, as well as the advantages and benefits that the organizations obtain when engaging in the alliances. The empirical data in this project is derived from six semi-structured in-depth interviews, conducted with humanitarian NGO′s based in Denmark and cooperating within alliances with African partner organizations. The interviews are constructed in a semi-structured manor and aim at shedding light on the experiences and knowledge held by each of the organizations concerning the establishment of cross-border alliances. Each of the six organizations have been carefully picked out in the attempt to reach the best possible understanding of the area of interest. Drawing on the theoretical frameworks created by Barney (1999, 2001, 2006), Hofstede (1993) and Schein (1990), the focal point of the research project is to gain an understanding of the alliance structures between the NGO agents, the competitive advantages that might be gained as a result of the alliances, as well as the importance of culture within the international alliances. The theories are combined in a theoretical framework that operates on both an internal level within each organization as well as an external level ″between″ them.The theoretical point of reference and the information retrieved from the empirical data is combined and discussed in the analysis. An analytical framework and model is created for the facilitation of this analysis and discussion and exemplifies how the theoretical understandings are applied in order to examine and understand the empirical material. Analytical questions such as how are the alliances established and maintained as well as what resources are relevant within the partnerships are thoroughly discussed. Finally the research question and the supplementary sub-questions are attempted answered in the conclusive part of the rapport. The main results derived from this thesis are that there are four different grounds on which partnerships are formed; common ideology, personal relationships, geographical placement and working with certain minorities. The benefit that NGO’s gain from alliances include access to local knowledge and additional funding. When it comes to organizational ideology alliances sometimes require compromises. In the present case mostly concerning time management and issues of children’s rights. Several resources are put into play by the organizations these include human, organizational and financial resources. When put to use resources have the ability of strengthening the partnerships and thus contribute with sustained competitive advantage.

EducationsMSc in International Marketing and Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2012
Number of pages142