A1 Journal article (refereed)
NGO Legitimacy as a Continuous Negotiation Process : Fostering ‘Good Citizenship’ in Western Uganda (2022)

Kontinen, T., & Bananuka, T. H. (2022). NGO Legitimacy as a Continuous Negotiation Process : Fostering ‘Good Citizenship’ in Western Uganda. Nordic Journal of African Studies, 31(4), 350-373. https://doi.org/10.53228/njas.v31i4.963

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Kontinen, Tiina; Bananuka, Twine Hannington

Journal or series: Nordic Journal of African Studies

ISSN: 1235-4481

eISSN: 1459-9465

Publication year: 2022

Publication date: 12/12/2022

Volume: 31

Issue number: 4

Pages range: 350-373

Publisher: Nordic Africa Research Network

Publication country: Sweden

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.53228/njas.v31i4.963

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Open Access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/84493

Additional information: Special issue: Citizenship in Uganda


The article draws on and contributes to debates on the legitimacy of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) engaged in development, defining organizational legitimacy as a social construct that is continually negotiated in relationships with diverse audiences. To explore the negotiated nature of NGO legitimacy, the article examines the efforts of a Ugandan NGO, Kabarole Research and Resource Centre (KRC), to foster citizens’ capacities in rural communities in the western part of the country. Drawing on interviews and participant observation, we scrutinize the ways in which KRC balances between different and even contrasting legitimacy expectations stemming from three types of encounters significant to the NGO: those with international collaborators, community members, and local government. We show how international collaborators prioritize support for active citizenship, manifested in mobilizing to claim rights and accountability; village residents emphasize good citizenship, comprising a secure livelihood and community contributions; and local government endorses citizenship characterized by fulfilling obligations. The NGO must balance between those expectations to secure funding, fulfil their empowerment mission, and maintain their ability to act without restrictions. In conclusion, the article argues for a notion of NGO legitimacy as a state of continual negotiation, wherein the specificities of significant audiences and the nature of the negotiations vary, based on the activities and contexts of any particular development NGO.

Keywords: non-governmental organisations; citizenship; African identity; legitimacy; communities (organisations); civic activism; negotiations; development cooperation; development research

Free keywords: NGOs; civic education; Uganda

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Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2022

JUFO rating: 1

Last updated on 2023-03-10 at 13:42