This concluding chapter summarizes the key findings from the empirical chapters and identifies issues for future research. The scope of this volume is ambitious. Theoretically, we make the case that the collective action perspective presents an analytically novel and useful way to think about advocacy organizations. In doing so, we suggest that advocacy organizations and their networks, very much like firms, seek to fulfill both normative concerns and instrumental objectives, face challenges of collective action, and compete as well as collaborate with other advocacy actors that function in the same issue area. Empirically, we employ the collective action approach across a range of cases to study how advocacy organizations emerge, how they organize themselves, and how they choose their tactics.
Advocacy being a collective endeavor, we model advocacy NGOs as composite actors pursuing collective action toward potentially contested goals. While advocacy organizations are not profit-oriented, they systematically and rationally pursue policy goals, such as getting their preferred issues on public agendas, reforming policy, and shaping policy implementation. Importantly, some of them might pursue instrumental goals which create excludable benefits for their key constituents (Sell and Prakash, 2004). The empirical cases demonstrate the usefulness of the firm analogy to uncover and explain anomalies that the extant advocacy NGO literature has had difficulty in explaining, such as when and why advocacy groups do not collaborate, and why human rights organizations might choose to ignore the most egregious abuses and focus instead on lesser problems.