The Meaning of Nonprofit Organization: Insights from Classical Institutionalism
The paper explores the way the work of classic institutionalist authors can inform modern nonprofit economics. From the Veblenian perspective, nonprofit organization is explained as an institutional consequence of the pecuniary-industrial dichotomy. The Ayresian theoretical system is used to highlight nonprofit organization as a particular form of the progressive weakening of the institution of private property in response to technological imperatives. Based on these arguments, the societal meaning of nonprofit organization is shown to be in realizing instrumental value that is unattainable through pecuniary ceremonial behavior embodied in the for-profit sector. At the same, in line with the Veblenian analysis of American universities, the ability of nonprofit firms to attain instrumental value is recognized as potentially limited by the corrupting effects of the embedding pecuniary culture.
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