The Challenge of Activist Coalition Governance: Accommodating Diversity to Create Institutions—An Approach Via the Inter-Relationships Between Action, Project and Instrument

Carine Chemin, Corinne Vercher, 2011

Name of publisher/editor

International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations

Geographic area


Summary & key words

This paper addresses the governance of hybrid forms of organisation arising in new social movements, characterised by diverse institutional logics and democratic decision making. Our theoretical framework encompasses the governance theory of Kooiman with insights from new developments in institutional theory. This framework allows us to examine governance as the capacity to link together disparate institutions from the perspective of interactions between action, project and instrument, and to explore the institutional work that results from these interactions. By studying a French activist coalition, we explore the micro-processes that make it possible to accommodate diversity in an organisation intended to produce solid institutions. Our results show that the three elements of governance—action, project and instrument—have an impact on the cohesion of diversity-based organisations and on building and consolidating institutions. When these elements are flexible and versatile enough, and when they mutually nurture each other, a plurality of logics is possible, the coalition goes forward, and true institutional work can be accomplished. When one of these elements of governance—instruments in particular—becomes autonomous and rigid, diversity is more difficult to achieve and one logic is likely to prevail over the others, compromising the very survival of the coalition and impeding the emergence of a new institution.


Subject (Categories)

economic social