Tag Archives: governance

Out of the Shadows: Nonprofit Governance Research from Democratic and Critical Perspectives

Chao Guo, Barbara A. Metelsky and Patricia Bradshaw

The goal of this book chapter is two-fold: 1) to review theoretical developments in the study of nonprofit governance from the perspectives of critical and democratic theories; and 2) to deconstruct the silences in the reviewed literatures, to reveal what has been kept in the shadows, and then identify research that might address these gaps. Consistent with critical and post-modern traditions, we start the chapter by declaring our commitment to democracy, inclusion, and power sharing. In the next section, we review and synthesize the democratic perspectives on the study of nonprofit governance, with a focus on theories of representation and participation. We then turn to the literature from various critical perspectives, and explore the roles that these perspectives play in illuminating often-neglected or overlooked aspects of nonprofit governance. We conclude with recommendations for a research agenda, and a discussion of how this agenda could inform the development of more participatory, inclusive, and change-oriented governance practices.

In C.J. Cornforth and W.A. Brown (eds.) New Perspectives on Nonprofit Governance. 2013. London: Routledge – Full Version



The Road Less Traveled: Establishing the Link between Nonprofit Governance and Democracy

Chao Guo

Editor’s Note:

Guo focuses on two research traditions that illuminate the relationship between governance and democracy, in the hope of shedding some new light into understanding the democratic deficit within the sector and its possible remedy. Because, as Guo concludes, “if the sector as a whole does not recognize that there is a tremendous unrealized potential for nonprofit governance to contribute to democracy, it could cost the sector quite dearly over time.” 

The Nonprofit Sector 19, No. 4 (2012): 26-31

Governing Chinese Nonprofit Organizations: The Promise and Limits of the ‘Third Way’

Zhibin Zhang, Chao Guo and Dongjin Cai

Using the lens of board governance, this study examines the capacity of Chinese nonprofit organizations as an alternative to the market and the state in addressing societal problems. Based on case studies of two community-based organizations, we find that in both the advocacy-oriented and service-oriented organizations, the board focuses on fundraising and program development. Yet this seemingly similar focus results from different environmental conditions: facing unfavorable institutional and resource environments, the board of the advocacy organization is pressured to take a more proactive and rigorous role for the sake of survival. In contrast, the board of the service organization, with significant support from the government, is committed to expanding the organization. Our findings thus raise concerns about whether Chinese nonprofit organizations are an effective “third way” to address public problems.

 International Review of Public Administration 16, no. 1 (2011): 11

Exploring the Key Roles for Nonprofit Boards

William A. Brown and Chao Guo

This research note explores roles for nonprofit boards as described by 121 community foundation executives. Through content analysis, a synthesized list of 13 different roles were identified. The study considered institutional and organizational attributes such as environmental uncertainty and organizational complexity to explore the contingencies under which certain board roles become more prevalent. The roles were also matched to existing governance theories. The list not only reflects activities recognized by different theoretical models but also suggests conflicts in the way strategy is conceptualized and articulated as a governance task.

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 39, no. 3 (2010): 536-546

Government Funding and Community Representation on Nonprofit Boards: The Bargain We Strike

Chao Guo

A study conducted by the author indicates that reliance on government funding may have a negative impact on community representation within nonprofit boards, as these boards become increasingly populated by professional and social elites with ties to public funding agencies. The author suggests that the appointment of volunteers to a nonprofit’s board may help alleviate this problem, by simultaneously increasing community representation and improving board strength.

Nonprofit Quarterly 14, no. 4 (2007): 70-76

When Government Becomes the Principal Philanthropist: The Effect of Public Funding on Patterns of Nonprofit Governance

Chao Guo

This study uses board governance as an analytical lens for exploring the effects of government funding on the representational capacities of nonprofit organizations. A typology of governance patterns is first developed that captures the board’s strength relative to the chief executive and its representation of community interests. Using this typology and employing multinomial logit analyses of survey data from a sample of urban charitable organizations, the study tests how nonprofit governance is mediated by levels of government funding. Controlling for other relevant environmental and institutional factors, reliance on government funding decreases the likelihood that nonprofit organizations will develop strong, representative boards.

Public Administration Review 67, no. 3 (2007): 458-473