Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 150, Issue 2, pp 385–399 | Cite as

Does Cross-Sector Collaboration Lead to Higher Nonprofit Capacity?

  • Michelle ShumateEmail author
  • Jiawei Sophia Fu
  • Katherine R. Cooper
Original Paper


Cross-sector social partnership (CSSP) case-based theory and research have long argued that nonprofits that engage in more integrative and enduring cross-sector partnerships should increase their organizational capacity. By increasing their capacity, nonprofits increase their ability to contribute to systemic change. The current research investigates this claim in a large-scale empirical research study. In particular, this study examines whether nonprofits that have a greater number of integrated cross-sector partnerships have greater capacities for financial management, strategic planning, external communication, board leadership, mission orientation, and staff management than nonprofits that have other types of interorganizational relationships. Moreover, it examines whether the length of these partnerships is associated with better capacity. Hierarchical multiple regression analysis drawn from surveys of 452 nonprofit organizations suggests that cross-sector collaboration is not systematically related to increased capacity. However, the results suggest that more enduring relationships between government and nonprofit organizations that extend beyond funder–recipient relationships are related to greater strategic planning capacity. Implications for CSSP research are drawn from the results, especially those concerned with the outcomes of CSSPs.


Capacity Cross-sector social partnerships Interorganizational network Network portfolio Nonprofit organization 



Cross-sector social partnership



This study was funded by the National Science Foundation (SES-1264417).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michelle Shumate
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jiawei Sophia Fu
    • 1
  • Katherine R. Cooper
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Communication Studies, School of CommunicationNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

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