Navigating collaboration and confrontation: success factors and constraints for CSOs in negotiation inclusion in land deals in Kenya, in the context of increased private sector importance


This study examines the issue of specialization across the different political roles that CSOs play. In particular, we investigate whether it is desirable that individual CSOs opt either for cooperation or confrontation and act together in advocacy coalitions, or alternatively, whether there is a rationale to combine these two roles even within single CSOs. A key variable in answering this question is the perceived legitimacy of a CSO to advocate. Such legitimacy may be built through service delivery and the implementation or coordination of policies, as part of a cooperative role. It may also be compromised by co-optation when partnering too closely with governmental or private sector actors. How this balances out empirically is tested among CSOs that advocate for fair and inclusive land deals in Kenya. Perceptions of legitimacy will be solicited from CSOs’ own constituencies as well as their advocacy targets, especially private investors. We partner in this research with ActionAid, member of the FGG alliance, which navigates between cooperation and confrontation in advocating for responsible land deals. Identification of the degree of complementarity between roles relies on a comparison of CSOs with different degrees of specialization and, by going beyond the ‘usual suspects’, different sources of legitimacy.


Project number

W 08.311.108

Main applicant

Prof. dr. M.J. Spierenburg

Affiliated with

Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen, Culturele Antropologie en Ontwikkelingsstudies

Team members

Prof. dr. M. Dekker, Dr. L.A.C.M. van Kempen, Dr. M. Matelski, Prof. dr. A.K. Nangulu, Dr. B.K. Otundo, Prof. dr. M.J. Spierenburg, Dr. J.D. Wijnhoud, S.G. Zijlstra


15/12/2017 to 01/07/2019