This volume outlines a new agenda for the study of advocacy. We focus on particular advocacy actors, NGO advocacy organizations, involved in public advocacy. We begin with the premise that since advocacy is a collective endeavor, advocacy NGOs should be viewed as actors pursuing collective action. Collective action issues should therefore bear upon their emergence and strategies. We draw on the firm analogy, modeling advocacy NGOs as “firms” operating in competitive policy markets. The firm analogy is instructive because individuals via advocacy NGOs make analytically similar choices regarding the collective organization of their social, political, and economic activities.
The book makes three contributions to the study of advocacy. First, unlike the dominant NGO politics and social movement literatures that tend to focus on advocacy campaigns, our book focuses on advocacy actors, specifically their emergence and strategies. Second, we outline a new way of thinking about advocacy actors. While many advocacy NGOs are motivated by normative goals, they have instrumental objectives as well. They operate in competitive arenas for funds, media visibility, and support from well-defined constituencies. They pay attention to organization survival and growth. We systematically examine how both normative and instrumental concerns influence their emergence and strategies. Third, by employing the collective action perspective to study advocacy, this volume seeks to integrate the study of advocacy in the broader collective action research program. This should foster greater analytical clarity regarding advocacy NGOs’ emergence and strategies, and support analytic comparisons across various types of NGO as well as comparisons of advocacy NGOs with other forms of collective action.