Defining the Universe of Social Enterprise: The Social Enterprise Zoo. With Dennis Young. (working paper). [pdf]
After more than a decade of research in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere, there is continued debate on the definitions of social enterprise, specifically in classifying populations. In this paper we argue that current metaphors fall short of providing an adequate framework for future research, policy, and practice. Instead we offer an alternative metaphor, that of a social enterprise zoo. The diverse universe of social enterprise forms and the “zoo” in which many different “animals” combine social and market goals in substantially different ways. Each species has distinct environments and needs, though. Using this framework we then reconsider the place of social entrepreneurs, viewing them as curators responsible for nurturing, breeding, and experimenting with the ever changing population of animals in the social enterprise zoo.
Survival analysis is used to examine competition between international NGOs over a 19-year time period. Resources expand rapidly during the study period but are captured by the legacy NGOs leading to a top-heavy sector and intense competition among smaller NGOs.
Grant Market Fragmentation and Nonprofit Revenue Volatility (working paper).
Institutional donors can package resources into a few large grants or many small grants. This paper examines the mathematics of grant markets to make the case that larger grants lead to high revenue volatility and may be undesirable from a donor perspective.
This paper appears as a book chapter for A. Prakash and M.K. Gugerty (eds.) Rethinking Advocacy Organizations. A Collective Action Perspective. Cambridge Press.
Anatomy of the Nonprofit Starvation Cycle. With Elizabeth Searing. (working paper). [pdf]
The nonprofit starvation cycle is a debilitating trend of under-investment in organizational infrastructure that is fed by potentially misleading financial reporting and donor expectations of increasingly low overhead expenses. Since its original reporting in 2008, the phenomenon has been referenced several times, but seldom explored empirically; this study utilizes twenty-five years of nonprofit data to examine the existence, duration, and mechanics behind the nonprofit starvation cycle. Our results show a definite downward trend in overhead costs, reflecting a deep cut in administrative expenses partially offset by an increasing in fundraising expenses. The organization’s size is instrumental to its behavior, with a sharp rise in overhead occurring when revenues equal $100 thousand, but diminishing at $550 thousand. Finally, the brunt of the cuts have fallen on non-executive staff wages and professional fees, which heighten the concern of ill effects from a fixation on overhead cost reduction.
NGO and NPO Effectiveness: A Modern Synthesis. With H. Swedlund and H.P. Schmitz (working paper). [pdf]
This paper offers a comprehensive and interdisciplinary structured review of the literature concerned with non-governmental (NGO) and nonprofit (NPO) effectiveness using a new methodological approach that builds citation networks to identify key citation patterns. We identify four primary domains that ground the work on NGO/NPO effectiveness in the contemporary literature: projects, internal management, external environment, and networks/partnerships. We then synthesize the domains with the early conceptualizations of effectiveness to provide a consistent methodological framework for studying effectiveness across disciplines and research questions.
New Approaches to Evaluation: Comparative Impact Assessment in Micro-Finance (2008). [pdf]
This paper answers the question, if donors were to require NGOs to provide data on the impact of their projects, what can be learned from the data? An evaluation framework is presented and an argument made that the data would not be granular enough to support a ranking-style system, but NGOs could be sorted into performance tiers that could greatly help in donor decision-making.
Aid Effectiveness After the Gujarat Earthquake: A Case Study of Disaster Relief (2007). [pdf]
What are the appropriate systems to hold NGOs accountable for the funding they receive? The most common are reports and financial audits, but these prove to be a huge administrative burden and often don