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Goal-boundary typology of nonprofit organizations: a proposal

Abstract

Given that nonprofitness is a means to an end and not a goal in itself in nonprofits, I establish the need for a typology of nonprofits and propose an ideal type typology based on organizational goals and boundaries as the two dimensions. I distinguish between six types based on two kinds of goals: service delivery and social transformation and three levels in boundaries on the informal–formal boundary continuum. The stability and transformation of organizations among these six types is also discussed followed by utilizing the ideal types for the development of propositions on accountability across these nonprofit types. This paper contributes to the literature on nonprofit organizations and organizational systematics.

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Notes

  1. It is also important to note here that McKelvey (1982) differentiates between classifications and typologies that are focused on individual organisations and those that are focused on groups and populations of organisations. In the latter case the emphasis is on the differences that separate one group from another and how such differences influence internal structure and function within the group. The classification of populations, which McKelvey proposes is similar in principle to the classification of living beings. For instance, while there are many kinds of plants, plants as a class are different from animals on certain fundamental characteristics. The important aspect here is the level of abstraction at which the classification or difference is being recognized. Further, Miles and Snow typology, Porter typology of strategy are not organizational classifications but classifications of strategy types. Mintzberg’s structures in fives is an organizational typology and McKelvey (1982) discusses this at length and articulates the limitations of this typology in the taxonomic sense.

  2. Social transformation is used a nomenclature instead of “rights based” because, there could be other kinds of social transformation beyond rights based, such as proselytization. In order to avoid an overly narrow restrictive focus, this paper uses social transformation to indicate any pursuit of changing the status quo of social relations and ideologies.

  3. This formal-informal distinction draws on the fundamental distinction in organizational sociology between rules and norms, rules being formal and norms being informal.

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Correspondence to Nimruji Jammulamadaka.

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Jammulamadaka, N. Goal-boundary typology of nonprofit organizations: a proposal. Decision (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40622-022-00310-3

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Keywords

  • NGOs
  • Typology
  • Organizational goals
  • Boundaries
  • Accountability
  • Organizational systematics