Featured Working Papers


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.  
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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.   
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The Professor Is In: Classroom Techniques That Capture Critical Issues in Volunteer Management

by Dr. Sarah Jane Rehnborg

Dr. Sarah Jane Rehnborg published a two-part feature article focused on classroom techniques for teaching critical issues in volunteer management in the January and April 2013 editions of e-Volunteerism, an online journal for volunteer leaders. Part 1 focused on using role plays, case studies, and current events to illustrate core concepts for students who lack real-life experience in volunteerism and the nonprofit world. Part 2 explored factors to consider in designing internship experiences and techniques for teaching critical thinking that help students learn and question core assumptions within the field.

Working Papers

Constructing Meaning Through Service: Beyond Beliefs and Actions

Chris Gauthier, 2008 Summer Fellow - University of Michigan
Much of the literature on community service has sought to investigate the factors that compel individuals to participate. These studies have tended to investigate service using rational choice models or socialization and human capital perspectives. While this literature is useful it fails to address an important dimension of service, specifically the meaning that service has for individuals and how their service activities correspond to their vision of meaningful social change. This study proposes that there are different domains of service defined by the intersection of the type of work that an individual engages in (actions) and the individual’s vision of how meaningful social change occurs (belief). Rational choice or market models would predict that individuals serve exclusively in domains that align belief and action; however, drawing on in-depth interviews with college age volunteers, the data presented here suggests that volunteers often engage in service activities that do not conform to expectations. Despite the tension between action and belief, these individuals still see their service work as meaningful. The ways individuals make meaning of service that is out of step with an ideal alignment of belief and action outcomes are explored.

Who Gets USAID Democracy Assistance?: Thinking About Foreigh Aid in a Global Society

Lindsey Peterson, 2008 Summer Fellow - The Ohio State University
In this paper I build two conceptual models to test how aid is distributed: a ‘strategic model and a ‘strategic philanthropic’ model. Realist interests are measured as economic, political, and security interests that might make a country more attractive for foreign aid distribution, but do not necessarily achieve the objective of increasing global democracy. The philanthropic model takes the domestic political characteristics of the potential recipients and examines how well their existing levels of democracy, human rights protection, and civil society capacity influence their receipt of aid.

Corporate Philanthropy: Are Corporations Strategic in Their Philanthropic Practices?

Olena Verbenko, 2009 Summer Fellow - University of Chicago
This paper examines the diversity of corporate philanthropic practices and aims to determine whether corporations are strategic in their philanthropic giving. Using an original database including firm-level data on dollar donations for charitable purposes among American Fortune 500 companies, this paper looks at the kind of firms that participate in giving, the kind of giving programs these firms set up, and the structure of the foundation giving these firms chose. The definition and identification of strategic philanthropy is discussed and explored. The main empirical findings of this paper provide evidence that at present time firms continue practicing non-strategic philanthropy.

The Politics of Need and Politics of Politics: Exploring the Motives of Donative Actors to Social Service Nonprofit Organizations in a Highly Politicized Field

Celeste Benson, 2008 Summer Fellow - University of Wisconsin Madison

This paper explores the capacity of several induced theories of philanthropic behavior to explain foundation grant-making patterns to nonprofit social service organizations working to address teenage pregnancy through counseling on “abortion alternatives”. It argues that theories of nonprofit sector founding which stress that nonprofits will arise as a response to need do not help to explain the presence of such organizations across U.S. states in this field. Instead it argues that grant making patterns in highly politicized fields may best be explained by conceiving of funders as strategic and rational political actors whose grant-making responds to structural opportunity and incentive.

A Trellis for Nonprofits? The Growth of Government Civil Society Registries

Susan Appe, 2010 Summer Fellows, University at Albany - SUNY

Civil society registries have emerged as a type of a government-implemented policy tool that, according to policymakers, aim to do everything from compile information, promote accountability and foster collaboration. I argue that these types of policy tools have profound consequences to the development of civil society. Drawing from literature on institutional isomorphism, policy studies, government-nonprofit contracting, and development studies and using a case study of Ecuador, this article intends to (1) explore the emerging phenomena of civil society registries; (2) examine the intentions and  interpretations of such a registry; and (3) investigate its possible implications for civil society development and civil society-state relations. The article ends with a discussion on the possible implications for the development of civil society and directions for future research on civil society registries.