The Strategic Management of Accountability in Nonprofit Organizations: An Analytical Framework

By Kearns, Kevin P. | Public Administration Review, March-April 1994 | Go to article overview

The Strategic Management of Accountability in Nonprofit Organizations: An Analytical Framework


Kearns, Kevin P., Public Administration Review


Private nonprofit organizations comprise a vast and growing sector of the national economy, and they are a vital partner with government in the provision of a wide range of social and human services.(1) Growth in the size and influence of the nonprofit sector has led to increased visibility and public scrutiny by diverse stakeholders including government oversight agencies, private donors and foundations, clients, the media, and the public at large.

Anyone who doubts the growing importance of accountability in the nonprofit sector need only scan the headlines of the professional periodicals and newspapers for evidence to the contrary. One recent issue of The Chronicle of Philanthropy (January 26, 1993) contained stories on: the attempts of a special Senate committee to crack down on lax financial reporting by selected charities; modifications of IRS = forms requesting more information on salaries of charities' top officials; a report from California's attorney general on nonprofit fund raising in that state; and the reluctance of charities to conduct performance evaluations of their volunteers.

Attention to issues of accountability in the nonprofit sector is not a new phenomenon (Commission on Private Philanthropy and Public Needs, 1975). In fact, public scrutiny and controversy over the appropriate role of the sector has existed for more than 200 years, since the emergence of the third sector in the United States (Hall, 1987a). The debate was revived with intensity following last years controversy in the national office of the United Way of America which sparked a fire storm of interest in the national media, among the general public, and especially in nonprofit professional circles. Today, throughout the nonprofit sector, there is renewed interest in issues such as: measuring the value-added performance of nonprofit organizations in terms of actual outcomes and impacts (Kanter and Summers, 1987; O'Connell, 1988; Drucker, 1990); ensuring that trustees and other volunteers understand and fulfill their legal and professional responsibilities (Dayton, 1987; Carver, 1990; Panus, 1992); public disclosure of operating practices related to fund raising and executive compensation (Council of Better Business Bureaus, 1982; Hills Bush, 1992; Kahn, 1992); and fulfilling explicit or implicit obligations associated with public subsidies (i.e., tax exemptions) of nonprofit activities (Ackerman, 1982; Simon, 1987; Gaul and Borowski, 1993).

Rationale for Focusing on Accountability in Nonprofit Organizations

The general notion of accountability is quite familiar to most government officials, whether elected or appointed, but perhaps less familiar to nonprofit professionals. In the substantial literature dealing with distinctions between public and private management, the contributing elements of accountability-political constituencies, public mandates, oversight agencies, checks and balances, and media scrutiny--are presented as core differences in the respective managerial contexts of governmental and for-profit organizations (Allison, 1980; Miles, 1982, pp. 39-41). Also, accountability is a prevalent theme in the curricula of schools of public policy and management. Therefore, even before they begin their careers, prospective public servants are exposed to the concept of managing public expectations and working within specific legal and procedural frameworks of accountability.

In the business sector, as well, the concept of public accountability has received more attention in the last three decades. Today, most standard business texts contain chapters on social responsibility, business ethics, and interactions with government, and many business schools now offer full courses on these topics.

The interest in accountability in government and business has produced a wealth of literature on the topic that has focused on operational definitions of accountability (Shafritz, 1992, p. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Strategic Management of Accountability in Nonprofit Organizations: An Analytical Framework
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.