This study empirically assesses the impact of nonprofit organizations (NPOs) on multi-actor global governance initiatives. Multi-actor global governance initiatives have emerged to strengthen joint action among different societal actors to tackle transnational social and environmental issues. While such initiatives have received a great deal of academic attention, previous research has primarily focused on businesses’ perspectives. In light of the important role of NPOs within such initiatives, critically addressing NPOs’ role by assessing their impact on the effectiveness of such initiatives is crucial. This article builds on the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC)—the largest multi-actor global governance initiative in the world—and offers a panel analysis on a unique dataset including 820 NPOs from 68 different countries. The findings suggest that NPOs have indeed strengthened the UNGC over time, yet their engagement explains only a small fraction of differences in UNGC activity across countries. This study contributes to the emerging research on nonprofits’ social responsibility by fostering the actorhood thesis, which places higher responsibility for the impact and requirements for accountability on NPOs. Furthermore, the study supports discussions about the increasing political role of NPOs by providing the first empirical evidence for their political leadership and impact in multi-actor global governance initiatives.
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