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Research@SPA: Nonprofit Management

Research at SPA

Select Research Highlights in Nonprofit Management

Measuring Government Contractors' Performance

“The Performance Puzzle: Understanding the Factors Influencing Alternative Dimensions of Performance” by Anna Amirkhanyan et al., examines the performance of contracted childcare centers in Ohio.

The study finds that performance assessments of clients, leadership, staff, and government regulators vary significantly and are influenced by different organizational and environmental factors. Also, the strength of the government-contractor relationships improves these assessments, while the extent of red tape and formalization in contracts undermines them. It appears in Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory.

Funding and Self-Regulation

Khaldoun AbouAssi investigated the assumption that an organization is more likely to adopt self-regulation practices if it has a high level of resource dependence. The study finds moderate support for claims that diversity of funding sources positively correlates with self-regulation practices. Additional research is planned to identify differences between resource dependency explanations and plausible alternatives. The study, titled “Testing Resource Dependency as a Motivator for NGO Self-Regulation: Suggestive Evidence from the Global South,” appeared in Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly.

Accountability and Expenses at Foundations

Amanda J. Stewart and Lewis Faulk examine the potential paradox of account- ability engendered by the qualifying distributions requirement of the Tax Reform Act of 1969, as administrative expenses can be counted toward foundations’ qualifying distributions.

Using a 14-year panel, the analysis indicates that professionalization, measured by operating and administrative expenses, has a positive association with foundation grant-making. From a policy perspective, the current structure of the qualifying distributions mandate does not appear to lead to a crowding out of grant allocations as administrative expenses grow. The article, titled “Administrative Growth and Grant Payouts in Nonprofit Foundations: Fulfilling the Public Good amid Professionalization?” was published in Public Administration Review.

NGO-Donor Relationships

Khaldoun AbouAssi examines the responses of NGOs to changes in the funding priorities of their donors. The article draws on qualitative research into the responses of four NGOs – responses ranging from suspending the relationship, reaching common ground, automatically executing the donor’s interests, and voluntarily and deliberately adapting to the situation. AbouAssi identifies four modes of response: exit, voice, loyalty, and adjustment. He also offers additional interpretations of NGO responses and discusses the implications for NGO management. The article, titled “NGOs’ Hands In Donors’ Pockets: What Happens When Donors Move! How NGOs React To Shifts In Donor Funding?” appeared in Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly.

Gender Pay Gaps in the Nonprofit Sector

Lewis Faulk et al., report that gender pay gaps in the nonprofit sector are smaller in industries where nonprofits outnumber for-profits and where higher proportions of female-dominated occupations exist. They also show that gender pay gaps are as large as in the for-profit sector in some industries. Yet, in other industries, women make more than comparably qualified men. The authors found this was not due to the absence of gender pay ceilings in the sector, but rather that relative pay equality is compressed around a wage floor. Titled “An Analysis of Gender Pay Disparity in the Nonprofit Sector: An Outcome of Labor Motivation or Gendered Jobs,” the study was published in Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly.

Recent Articles & Papers

Amirkhanyan, A. A., Kim, H. J., and Lambright, K. T. (2014). “The Performance Puzzle: Understanding the Factors Influencing Alternative Dimensions and Views of Performance,” Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 24(1), pp. 1-34


AbouAssi, K. (2014). "Testing Resource Dependency as a Motivator for NGO Self-Regulation: Suggestive Evidence from the Global South," Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, OnlineFirst


AbouAssi, K. (2014). "Get Money Get Involved? NGO’s Reactions to Donor Funding and their Potential Involvement in the Public Policy Processes," VOLUNTAS: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 25(4), pp. 968-990


Faulk, L. (2014). “Overcoming the Cause of Failure and the Role of Issue Salience: Toward a Comprehensive Theory for Nonprofit Activity and Competition in a Three-Sector Economy.” Nonprofit Policy Forum, 5(2), pp. 335–365


Willems, J., Jegers, M., and Faulk, L. (2015). “The Antecedents of Reputational Effectiveness.” Public Performance & Management Review, forthcoming.


Stewart, A. J. and Faulk, L. (2014). “Administrative Growth and Grant Payouts in Nonprofit Foundations: Fulfilling the Public Good amid Professionalization?” Public Administration Review, 74(5), pp. 630–639