Accountability and Effectiveness Evaluation in Non-Profit Organizations

By James Cutt; Vic Murray | Go to book overview

Introduction

This book is a report on the results of a research project on performance measurement, evaluation and reporting in public and private non-profit organizations. The project began six years ago as a joint endeavour between the School of Public Administration at the University of Victoria in Victoria, British Columbia, and the Voluntary Sector Management Programme in the Faculty of Administrative Studies at York University in Toronto, Ontario, and was supported by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council in Ottawa. Graduate students at York University and the University of Victoria participated in and contributed significantly to the project. At York, Bill Tassie’s doctoral thesis developed as part of the project, and some of his ideas are captured in Chapter 3. At the University of Victoria, Master of Public Administration dissertations by Geoff Dinsdale and Marti Lea Thib were written as part of the project, and their major results are contained in the case studies reported in Chapters 8 and 9. Chris Corbett’s doctoral thesis developed through a partnership between this project and research in the School of Health Information Science at the University of Victoria, and his major argument is found in Chapter 12.

Although the chapters reflect a rough chronology of the project, they are primarily the story of the evolution of ideas through both conceptual development and actual practice in organizations in Toronto and Victoria. All the practical applications were in organizations in Canada, but the ideas reflect practice not only in Canada but also in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. We are confident that the problems we discovered and the ideas we developed and tested are generic to non-profit organizations wherever this form of institutional design is used to deliver services.

The foundation of performance measurement, evaluation and reporting is accountability. Chapter 1 examines this foundation as the start of the ‘story line of the project. All accountability relationships are about generating information to support decisions of some kind, and involve some sort of quasi-contractual relationship that defines shared expectations in a common currency. The major part of Chapter 1 is devoted to examining

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