Featured Working Papers



Designing and Testing the Volunteer Program Assessment Tool (VPAT)

by Sarah Jane Rehnborg, Dennis L. Poole, Michael K. Roemer, Laurel F. Mangrum, Kathleen Casey, Deborah Duvall
Over the past two decades considerable progress has been made in the development of national and community service volunteer programs. Experts in the field have recognized this need but lacked scientifically tested instruments to conduct such assessments. To advance knowledge in this area we developed the Volunteer Program Assessment Tool (VPAT). This research paper describes the methods we used to design and test the full version of the instrument and the screener. To our knowledge the VPAT is the first instrument of its kind to be tested for reliability and validity, and have utility for volunteer program assessments in diverse organizational settings.

Working Papers

TOWARD UNDERSTANDING GOVERNANCE IN HYBRID ORGANIZATIONS: THE CASE OF MINNESOTA’S CHARTER SCHOOLS

Melissa M. Stone, University of Minnesota, 2011 RGK-ARNOVA President’s Award for Nonprofit Research
 
This paper presents results from a research study on charter school governance in Minnesota, the first state to enact charter school legislation in 1991.  The paper examines the effects of the political and institutional environments on charter school governance, pays particular attention to how charter school boards navigate their legally mandated hybrid status, and analyzes the effects of hybridity on governance practices and school performance. The paper makes theoretical and empirical contributions to our understanding of governance in strong institutional environments and the implications of hybridity for governance practices.  
 
Download Paper

COMPETING INSTITUTIONAL LOGICS AND THE DYNAMICS OF INSTITUTIONALIZATION: A COMPARATIVE CASE STUDY OF NONPROFIT WORK INTEGRATION SOCIAL ENTERPRISES

Eve Garrow, University of Michigan, 2010 RGK-ARNOVA President’s Award for Nonprofit Research
 
By virtue of their hybrid identity as both nonprofit human service organizations and commercial businesses, work integration social enterprises (WISEs) are subject to institutional pluralism, creating tensions between mission and market. These tensions are embodied in the dual role of clients, who are constituted as both service recipients and instruments of production.  Drawing linkages between institutional logics and political economy perspectives, this paper develops and tests a theoretical model that seeks to explain the conditions under which clients are commodified. Comparative analysis of a theoretical sample of WISEs suggests that relative embeddedness across human service and business fields, the distribution of power across social service and production units, and the extent to which the service unit is closely coupled to the production unit combine to determine how clients are constructed and treated in the organization.   
 
Download Paper

 

Designing and Testing the Volunteer Program Assessment Tool (VPAT)

Sarah Jane Rehnborg, Dennis Poole, Michael Roemer, Laurel Mangrum, Kathleen Casey and Deborah Duvall
The need to assess the quality of federally or privately funded volunteer and national service programs has become increasingly critical. Experts in the field have recognized this need but lacked scientifically tested instruments to conduct such assessments. To advance knoweldge in this area we developed the Volunteer Program Assessment Tool (VPAT). This research paper describes the methods we used to design and test the full version of the instrument and the screener. To our knowledge the VPAT is the first instrument of its kind to be tested for reliability and validity, and have utility for volunteer program assessments in diverse organizational settings.

Assessing National Service Outcomes: A Multilevel Approach

Margaret L. Vaaler and Peter Frumkin
The present study uses hierarchical linear modeling and a large sample of AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps programs to examine the determinants of national service outcomes at the individual and program levels. We found several demographic variations in civic engagement and trust, tolerance and life skills, including race variations in gains in constructive group interactions and personal behavior in groups post-service. Programmatic characteristics have important influences on AmeriCorps members’ civic engagement, tolerance, and trust post-service. Furthermore, the level of support of members that programs offer is a key component to success of AmeriCorps programs. We conclude that the impact of national service could be improved through a better and deeper understanding of the interaction of individual and program level influences on AmeriCorps members’ outcomes. Successfully managing the recruitment of members and the delivery of quality programs in the future will depend on how well the interactions of individual and program-level determinants are understood.

Hearts or Minds? Persuasive Messages on Climate Change

Joshua W. Busby and Bethany Albertson
What kinds of appeals do the public find persuasive for global causes? Are arguments that appeal to so-called rational self-interest more persuasive than those that appeal to morality? Are mixed messages that combine appeals of self-interest with morality more successful than streamlined single themed messages? The causal mechanisms by which transnational advocacy movements are able to generate political support for their campaigns are poorly specified in the literature in international relations and public opinion. This paper explores the relative persuasiveness of advocacy appeals for the issue of climate change. Using an experimental design, this paper reports the results of survey market research of a diverse sample of 360 subjects, each of whom was assigned to one of four conditions, a control condition with no message appeal, an economic self-interest appeal, a secular moral appeal, and a mixed appeal combining self interest and morality.