SPPA Assistant Professor Paloma Raggo was awarded the 2015 Best Thesis Award from theAssociation for Nonprofit and Social Economy Research (ANSER) — Association de recherche sur les organismes sans but lucratif et de l’économie sociale (ARES). She will be formally recognized during the annual Banquet of the Association on June 4, 2015.  The PhD Thesis Award recognizes an outstanding thesis in the field of nonprofits and social economy research. ANSER-ARES is a Canadian association for those who have an interest in research that pertains broadly to nonprofit organizations and the social economy. The association seeks to build a collaborative community of scholars and researchers; and develop a Canadian body of knowledge that encompasses such fields as social enterprise and entrepreneurship, community economic development and organizing, nonprofit management, volunteering, philanthropy, co-operatives, social and environmental accounting, government/voluntary sector relationships, social movements, citizen engagement, and civil society.
Dr. Raggo’s dissertation discussed the accountability perceptions and practices of 152 CEOs of transnational NGOs (TNGOs). Drawing from the nonprofit, management, and international relations scholarship, she explored the three central questions of accountability debates: accountable to what, to whom, and how? She shows that there is no overarching theory of accountability. As a result, scholars have often focused on each question separately. Taking an actor-centered perspective, it is possible to understand how accountability practices vary across transnational NGOs. In her dissertation, Dr. Raggo takes the position that the leaders of these organizations are uniquely positioned in an accountability nexus as they negotiate between internal organizational demands for accountability and external operational constraints faced by their organizations. In other words, understanding the awareness of these leaders regarding their accountability can enable us to provide a coherent and representative framework for practitioners within global governance. She diagnosed the surveyed TNGOs with an “accountability dissonance disorder” (ADD) to explain the disconnect between the three main questions of accountability. Through the empirical chapters and using mixed-methods, she demonstrates how TNGO leaders generally struggled to communicate their practices, expressing  complex views about their accountability experiences.. She explains how the phenomenon of accountability dissonance persists because leaders, in order to express their accountability, use tools and processes that are mismatched to their definitions and audiences.
Furthermore, the data suggest that the types of organizations TNGO leaders manage affects accountability in very different ways, depending on the aspect of accountability being considered. To reach a holistic understanding, she proposes an overarching framework using the analogy of an accountability puzzle to highlight the need for a more integrated approach to TNGO accountability, one hinging on the ability to target the communication of accountability performance to specific audiences. She is currently working on a book based on the thesis as well as a number of articles stemming from this research.