Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Robert Donmoyer, PhD, Chairperson Lea A. Hubbard, PhD William O. Lowrey, PhD


Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) have increasingly been recognized as influential players in world politics and international development. Despite limited financial resources and having to rely on volunteers who often lack formal training, NGOs’ advocacy work has often been highly effective. Since the beginning of the 1990s, it has resulted in both the formulation of new policies and the cancellation or modification of existing ones.

Advocacy work by NGOs is especially important in countries like Pakistan because deep-rooted injustices and discrimination are unlikely to change without pressure from NGOs. This study investigated the strategies used by five NGO leaders for effective advocacy work in the Pakistani context. The study specifically examined (a) how NGO leaders attempted to influence the external environment and the impact of their attempts, (b) leaders’ efforts internally to create effective advocacy organizations, and (c) strategies NGO leaders used to nurture their personal capacity for effective leadership both within their own organizations and in the external advocacy arena.

This exploratory qualitative study focused on five Pakistani NGO leaders. A combination of convenience, maximum variation and snowball sampling was employed to identify the five leaders. Using qualitative methodologies, this study relied upon document analysis and two extended interviews with each research participant. The findings of this study are presented in two forms: (a) a narrative for each of the NGO leaders developed from the transcribed data through a process Polkinghorne calls narrative analysis and (b) a cross-case analysis that employed what Polkinghorne characterizes as an analysis of narrative approach. The analysis of narrative was built around five categories derived inductively from the data about the advocacy process in Pakistan and its impact on both the society and individuals.

The study documented, among other things, how the leaders determined their effectiveness and the various strategies they employed to manage their own lives so their advocacy work can be effectively sustained in a challenging environment. The results further demonstrated the importance of leaders nurturing NGO staff members and demonstrated how the five leaders approached this task. Finally, implications for practice, policy and future research were discussed.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Leadership Studies