Tag Archives: nonprofit organizations

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



Web Disclosure and the Market for Charitable Contributions

Gregory D. Saxton, D. Neely and Chao Guo

Nonprofit organizations face intense competition in the market for charitable contributions. Increasingly, donation decisions are made online, and organizations have responded by implementing substantive Internet disclosure and reporting regimes. We posit here that the voluntary disclosure of financial and performance information inherent in these regimes provides additional relevant information to a broad array of market participants, and thus has a positive impact on the receipt of charitable contributions. We test our hypotheses on a random sample of 400 US nonprofit organizations by building on the well established economic model of giving (Weisbrod and Dominguez, 1986), in which donations serve as the proxy for demand. Our central research question is thus: Are donors willing to “pay” for Web disclosure? Results indicate a positive relationship between the level of charitable contributions and the amount of disclosure provided by an organization on its website; however, performance and annual report disclosure are more important than financial disclosure, and performance disclosure has the biggest impact in organizations that are less reliant on donations.

Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, forthcoming (Available on SSRN)

Mapping the Representational Dimensions of Nonprofit Organizations in China

Chao Guo and Zhibin Zhang

To what extent do China’s non-profit and voluntary organizations have the capacities to represent effectively the interests of their constituents? In this paper, we examine the prevalence of various representational dimensions in these organizations. Our survey findings provide evidence that, other things being equal, an organization’s levels of descriptive and participatory representation have a positive and significant impact on its levels of substantive and symbolic representation. Our findings also show that organizational type matters: social organizations are more substantively and symbolically representative than private non-enterprise organizations, whereas advocacy-oriented organizations are more symbolically representative than those that are not advocacy-oriented. Our case studies further illustrate how the typical advocacy-oriented organization differs from the service-oriented organization in the development of its ‘representational mix’, how an organization’s ‘representational mix’ evolves over time, and how the relationship between the organization and its supervisory agency affects its various representational dimensions.

Public Administration 91, No. 2 (2011): 325-346 

Conceptualizing Web-based Stakeholder Communication: The Organizational Website as A Stakeholder Relations Tool

Gregory D. Saxton and Chao Guo

With the near ubiquity of the organizational website, organizations’ online stakeholder relationships have dramatically increased in prevalence, complexity, and financial and strategic importance. To help advance our understanding of these relationships, we introduce and test the multi-dimensional concept of Web based stakeholder communication using original data on US community foundations. After presenting the conceptual foundations of Web-based stakeholder communication, we develop operational measures of its key dimensions, namely stakeholder targeting and the balance of organizations’ online stakeholder portfolios. We then explore the outcomes of Web-based stakeholder communication by testing for its relationship to subsequent levels of charitable contributions. We end with an in-depth discussion of the most important implications for organizational theory and practice.

Communication & Science Journal, Forthcoming (2012)

Civil Society, Chinese Style: The Rise of the Nonprofit Sector in Post-Mao China

Chao Guo, J. Xu, D.H. Smith and Zhibin Zhang

Editors’ Note:

It is easy to forget and let lie fallow the great democratic potential of nonprofits in the United States. We have listened for years to U.S. nonprofit leaders bemoan while overstating the limits that are placed on advocacy potential, using it as an excuse not to work with their communities to ensure that public policy meets community need. But have we lost perspective on what the value of freedoms exercised regularly really are? This article has been on our minds for a while as we tracked the development of civil society in China and the regulatory/political environment in which it has functioned. We urge every U.S. nonprofit leader to read this, because it is not only enormously interesting but also provides a vivid sense of what we need to protect and use.

The Nonprofit Quarterly 19, No. 3, (2012): 20-27

Strategic Human Resources Management in Nonprofit Organizations

Chao Guo, William A. Brown, Robert F. Ashcraft, Carlton F. Yoshioka and Hsiang-Kai Dennis Dong

This study explores the prevalence of strategic human resources management (HRM) practices in nonprofit organizations as well as the organizational and contextual determinants. Based on survey data collected from 229 charitable nonprofit organizations, we find that organizations that are larger in size, technologically savvy, and dependent on the work of independent contractors all appear to be more likely to implement strategic HRM practices. Local affiliates of national organizations are more likely to implement strategic HRM practices. In addition, younger organizations, educational organizations, and organizations that do not have dedicated HR staff are also more likely to implement strategic HRM practices. Although dependence on volunteer labor has no significant effect on the outcome, further analysis indicates that volunteer-dependent organizations differ from others in several aspects of strategic HRM.

Review of Public Personnel Administration 31, no. 3 (2011): 248-269

Accountability Online: Understanding the Web-based Accountability Practices of Nonprofit Organizations

Gregory D. Saxton and Chao Guo

Nonprofit organizations are increasingly using Internet-based technologies to address accountability. This article presents a set of conceptual, theoretical, and empirical innovations to help understand this phenomenon. First, this article presents a conceptual framework that delineates two key dimensions of Web-based accountability practices: disclosure and dialogue. It then posits a four-factor explanatory model of online accountability incorporating organizational strategy, capacity, governance, and environment. Last, it tests the model through a content analysis of 117 U.S. community foundation Web sites combined with survey and financial data. The descriptive statistics show that the Web site has been more effectively used to provide financial and performance disclosures than to provide dialogic mechanisms for stakeholder input and interactive engagement. Our multivariate analyses, in turn, highlight capacity- and governance-related variables, especially asset size and board performance, as the most significant factors associated with the adoption of Web-based accountability practices.

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 40, no. 2 (2011): 270-295