Combining Practice and Theory to Improve Nonprofit Accountability and Governance

Second in a series sponsored by:
The Executive Doctor of Management (EDM) Program,
Weatherhead School of Management,
The Mandel Center for Nonprofit Organizations,
At Case Western Reserve University,
The Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership,
Graduate School of Public and International Affairs,
University of Pittsburgh

Session 1 | Session 2 | Session 3 | Register

Participants in this invitation-only colloquium will discuss some of the latest research-based thinking about nonprofit accountability, governance and effectiveness. The focus will be two-fold:

  1. Leaders learning from researchers. Based on a critical examination, what research-based knowledge carries direct applicability to leadership practice in the sector, and what research is irrelevant?
  2. Researchers learning from leaders. What current issues and innovative accountability and governance practices should guide future research into nonprofit effectiveness?

Theory and findings will be presented from recent doctoral research, and then critically analyzed by nonprofit leaders and academics acting as discussants, followed by general discussion among all participants. The sessions will be moderated by leading scholars from the region. Lunchtime topic table choices will include the following:

  • Boards in Times of Crises: Is A Contingency Approach to Governance Up to the Challenge?
  • An Ethics Case
  • Governance of Social Ventures

Agenda

12:00 pm Topic Tables: Discussion and Lunch
12:45 pm Overview: Agenda for the day
1:00 pm Session I: Compliance, Resistance and Innovation
2:00 pm Break  
2:15 pm Session II: Multiple Stakeholders, Multiple Values:
Achieving Collaboration & Accountability
3:30 pm Session III: Wrap-up - Panel and Discussion
4:00 pm Adjourn  

Topic Tables

12:00 pm

Patricia Bradshaw, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Organizational Behaviour/Industrial Relations, Schulich School of Business, York University, Toronto, Ontario

Boards in Times of Crises: Is A Contingency Approach to Governance Up to the Challenge?

Steven P. Feldman, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Management Policy, Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University

An Ethics Case

Stuart Mendel, Ph.D., Assistant Dean for Administration, Director, Master of Nonprofit Administration and Leadership, Co-Director, Center for Nonprofit Policy & Practice, Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, Cleveland State University

Governance of Social Ventures

Agenda Overview

12:45 pm

Paul F. Salipante, Ph.D., Professor of Labor and Human Resource Policy, Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University, Mandel Center Faculty and Chair of the Mandel Center Research Committee

Kevin P. Kearns, Ph.D., Director of The Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, and Professor of Public and Nonprofit Management, University of Pittsburgh

Session I:

1:00 pm

Compliance, Resistance, and Innovation

Moderator:

Jeffrey L. Brudney, Ph.D., Professor and Albert A. Levin Chair of Urban Studies and Public Service, Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, Cleveland State University

Paper 1:

Nonprofit Accountability: An Institutional and Resource Dependence Lens on Conformance and Resistance

Presenter:

Bobbi Watt Geer, Ph.D. candidate, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Pittsburgh

Discussant:

Barbara Clemenson, EDM, Adjunct Instructor, Case Western Reserve University, Academic and Career Advisor, Mandel Center for Nonprofit Organizations

Download the Paper

For the past two decades, there has been vast attention paid to issues of nonprofit accountability and accountability failures—in scholarly publications, nonprofit industry groups, media coverage and legislative hearings. With this persistent focus on accountability, why is it that the nonprofit sector continues to struggle to achieve it? Despite all of the intellectual energy devoted to increasing nonprofit accountability, there is a lack of data, in the Pittsburgh region and nationally, on the extent to which nonprofit organizations are actually using, and benefiting from, various methods and metrics to hold themselves accountable for their actions and outcomes. Additionally, there is also a lack of empirical study regarding the motivations for adopting or resisting a broad range of accountability mechanisms. This research examines to what extent and why nonprofit accountability mechanisms are adopted in human service organizations located in southwestern Pennsylvania. Its focus is twofold: 1) to assess the extent to which nonprofit leaders are familiar with and use the nonprofit accountability frameworks, strategies and mechanisms that have been proposed in the literature and through nonprofit sector leadership organizations—to assess nonprofits’ "accountability literacy" and 2) to explore the motivations or incentives for instituting or resisting the practices. Study results are examined through a dual lens of institutional and resource dependence theories.

Paper 2:

Toeing, Blurring or Crossing The Line? How Highly Regulated Organizations View Compliance and Innovation

Presenter:

Marilyn Hosea, EDM Class of 2010, Associate - Project Manager, DHHS, Office of Head Start, Booz Allen Hamilton, Denver, CO

Discussants:

Judith G. Simpson, Vice President, Community Investment, United Way of Greater Cleveland, Cleveland, OH

Jeffrey L. Brudney, Ph.D., Albert A. Levin Chair of Urban Studies and Public Service, Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, Cleveland State University

Download the Paper

Highly regulated government funded programs are often more rigidly scrutinized than corporate institutions—with rules, regulations and policies filling nearly every nook of nonprofit organizational life. A concern during this era of scarce financial resources and tight regulatory oversight is that the acceptance of public funds will impede the nonprofit’s ability to implement local innovations that build upon and support the expectations of a variety of key stakeholders (governing boards, service consumers, the public-at-large, and government/private funders). This paper examines ways in which federally funded nonprofit organizations continually strive to improve their organizational performance through innovation—employing practices that conceal, screen, or expose innovative acts that exceed regulatory mandates and requirements. Semi-structured interviews with nonprofit executives and past and present Federal government administrators provide insight into the following questions: How, and to what end, does resource dependency on government affect innovative practices in nonprofit sector programs? What strategies do agencies adopt to manage the tension between funder requirements and innovative opportunity in the context of resource dependent environments? The paper draws upon institutional theory, resource dependency theory, and disruptive innovation theory to examine these issues.

Break

2:00 pm

 

Session II:

2:15 pm

Multiple Stakeholders, Multiple Values: Achieving Collaboration & Accountability

Moderator:

Kevin P. Kearns, Ph.D., Director of The Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, and Professor of Public and Nonprofit Management, University of Pittsburgh

Paper 1:

The Relationship Between Reproducing Ownership and Sustaining Nonprofit Collaboration

Presenter:

Nonie Brennan, EDM Class of 2010, Executive Director, Emergency Fund, Chicago, IL

Discussant:

Debbie Schoonover, Program Director, Leadership Cleveland, Cleveland Leadership Center

Download the Paper

Analysis of semi-structured interviews with 21 partners of three long-standing, nonprofit collaborations in the health and human services sector points to the role of constituents' sense of ownership, and their continuous reproduction of ownership, in sustaining collaboration. In these data enduring collaborations are characterized, on the one hand, by employee behaviors typically considered aberrant – including rule-breaking and rule-making – and on the other, by “appreciative” participant behaviors. The study’s findings indicate that nonprofit leaders can purposefully foster governance structures and decision-making environments in which collaboration ownership is continually reproduced.

Paper 2:

Accountability in Social Enterprises: An Analytical Framework

Presenter:

Wen-Jiun Wang, Ph.D. Candidate, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Pittsburgh

Discussants:

 Patricia W. Nobili, MSSA, Executive Director, Achievement Centers for Children, Highland Hills, OH

Thomas H. Jeavons, Ph.D., Executive Director, ARNOVA (Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action)

Download the Paper

Paper by winner of best student paper competition on accountability and ethics, The Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Pittsburgh.

The emergence of social enterprises since the 1990s is a response to the increased desire for social change from the public and to the non-for-profits’ needs of financial diversification. However, the hybrid nature of social enterprises makes accountability in social enterprises different from that in traditional nonprofit organizations. In terms of the sources of accountability, social enterprises have mixed stakeholders from both traditional nonprofits and commercial organizations; in terms of the expected values, social enterprises are driven by the double bottom line: financial success and social mission achievement. This study aims to develop a framework that incorporates the features, conflicted values and diverse stakeholders' interests, into a matrix for analyzing the notion of accountability in social enterprises.

The proposed framework is a two by two matrix that contains four cells that represent the interrelationship between different stakeholders and expected values that social enterprises are held accountable for. The matrix illustrates how different values and multiple information users frame the accountability issues in social enterprises. It also visualized the possible tensions between values and between stakeholders. The proposed analytical framework may be helpful for classifying the notion of accountability in social enterprises. Meanwhile, it provides a potential perspective for developing new logical model of performance management and designing proper accountability mechanisms.

Session III: Wrap-up - Panel and Discussion

3:30 pm

A discussion will be held about ideas for practical action by nonprofit leaders and practical focus for nonprofit researchers.

Adjourn

4:00 pm


Thursday, April 16, 2009 from noon to 4 p.m.
Mandel Center Building, Room 115
11402 Bellflower Road
Cleveland, OH 44106-7166
United States
Registration for this event has closed

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