Governing NOW: Grassroots Activism in the National Organization
for Women. By Maryann Barakso. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press,
2004. 192p. $49.95 cloth, $18.95 paper.
This is a case study of the National Organization for Women that
explains how NOW's governance structure shaped the
organization's strategy from 1966 to 2003. “Strategy” is
defined as NOW's “goals and tactics it uses to pursue
them” (p. 2). The author contends that current conceptual approaches
to explaining organizational behavior, such as the availability of
resources, or political opportunities, or “collective belief
systems,” can fall short in their predictive powers. There are
times, for example, when organizations appear to be irrational and
self-destructive as they ignore “obvious political
opportunities” or invest “resources inefficiently” (p.
6). Analyzing organizational behavior from the perspective of its
“governance structure” or “political system,”
however, “resolves many of these apparent inconsistencies” (p.
6). Governance structure is “simply a political system described by
a group's guiding principles (its goals and values) on the one hand
and its formal decision-making process on the other” (p. 1).