Public Statements Following 9/11: Making the Case for an NGO Mission in a Politically Divisive Context


On September 11, 2001, Boeing 737s crashed into the Pentagon in Washington D.C., into the World Trade Center in New York City, and a field in western Pennsylvania. Estimates of the toll in human lives, on infrastructure and the economy were staggering. The nation reeled from shock, loss, and confusion. People searched for meaning, a sense of purpose, and identity. Non-stop media coverage touted a military response against Afghanistan to avenge the nation’s loss. How, if at all, would US-based organizations dedicated to peace and social justice around the world respond? More importantly, what factors were most critical in informing their decision whether or not to address the politically divisive issue publicly?

The purpose of this research is to document public statements made by development education NGOs following September 11th, to analyze the process shaping them, and to identify factors that most informed their content. By exploring the complexity of making public statements in a highly politicized context, this research will assist NGO practitioners and those for whom the study of NGO management, executive decision-making, or civil society is relevant.

This research seeks to capture not only the messages NGO executives had to convey, but also the factors weighed, stakeholders consulted, the risks taken. These statements and the accounts of how they were developed are the expression of the respondents’ visions for their organizations in the twenty-first century and the factors that influence their ability to achieve that vision. By exploring underlying frameworks of U.S. NGO executive behavior, practitioners can better articulate these assumptions and explore which types of actions, if any, NGO leaders may venture engaging.


Organizational Communication | Politics and Social Change | Public Affairs

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