Understanding Nonprofit Organizations: Governance, Leadership, and Management

Understanding Nonprofit Organizations: Governance, Leadership, and Management

Understanding Nonprofit Organizations: Governance, Leadership, and Management

Understanding Nonprofit Organizations: Governance, Leadership, and Management

Synopsis

This work is a practical and tactical guide, compiling pieces that cover the internal workings and fundamentals of governing the non-profit sector. Articles cover governance, executive leadership and revenue streams, among others.

Excerpt

The term "governance" is defined to mean the strategic leadership of nonprofit organizations. It is therefore important to understand how this use of the term differs from the way it is used in the context of traditional public administration. In the latter context governance usually refers to the process of government policy making, which is intimately related to the political activities of elected officials.

Outside the realm of government, the concept of governance refers to an aspect of the management of a given organization. Indeed, in most dictionaries, the synonyms of governance are words such as management and administration. In current parlance, the term has taken on a more specific meaning as a process for making certain types of management decisions. These are commonly referred to as strategic decisions, which have to do with such matters as setting the organization's mission, establishing the values it wishes to embody, deciding the broad strategy for achieving the mission, and evaluating its effectiveness in meeting its goals.

This concept of governance is rooted in the positivist tradition of social science, which assumes that individuals can rationally choose among alternative actions based on information that is consciously gathered and assessed. These decisions are believed to then determine actual behavior, and the outcomes of such behavior, are thought to modify the subsequent decisions (Burrell and Morgan 1979). As we shall see, so‐ called postmodern critical theory takes issue with this concept of governance as an intendedly rational process, preferring instead to see the behavior of organizational members emerging from a much more complex, less-deterministic process.

This brief explication of the governance of nonprofit organizations focuses on problematic issues in the process of making governance decisions and their relationship to organizational effectiveness.

Problematic Issues in Nonprofit
Governance

Considering governance as a decisionmaking process, there are two dominant issues of concern to scholars. One issue is who plays, or should play, which roles in the process, or, in practical terms, who is in charge of the organization and to whom is it accountable? The other issue is how governance decisions are, or should be, made.

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