Magazine article Stanford Social Innovation Review

The Perils of Getting Big

Magazine article Stanford Social Innovation Review

The Perils of Getting Big

Article excerpt

Larger social service organizations may result in less innovation

Over the past few decades, many aspects of American life have enlarged. Our cars, commutes, shopping centers, parking lots, portion sizes, pets, and waistlines have all gotten wider, taller, longer, or all three.

The same holds true for private human service organizations, according to University of Michigan researchers David J. Tucker, a professor of social work and sociology, and David H. Sommerfeld, a Ph.D. candidate in social work and sociology. The researchers analyzed how the average size of private nonprofit and for-profit human service firms changed from 1982 to 2000. In the June 2006 Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, they report that the number of social service firms with fewer than 100 employees has fallen, while the number of social service firms with 100 employees or more has grown (see graph below). The birthrate for smaller social service firms has also decreased.

These macrolevel shifts may transform the nature of the human service sector. "My conjecture is that more large firms will result in less innovation," Tucker says. '¢11 organizations resist change, but this is particularly true of larger organizations. oil tankers are hard to turn," he notes. To overcome inertia and discover ways to be more innovative, human service firms will have to devote more resources to research and development, he predicts.

Tucker points out that a top-heavy private human service sector would have its benefits. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.