IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

The Economic Role of the Nonprofit Firm


  • David Easley
  • Maureen O'Hara


This article demonstrates that the partitioning of economic activity into for-profit and nonprofit organizations can be at least partially described as the solution to an optimal contracting problem. We show that nonprofit firms may be superior to for-profit firms if the output cannot be costlessly observed.

Suggested Citation

  • David Easley & Maureen O'Hara, 1983. "The Economic Role of the Nonprofit Firm," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 14(2), pages 531-538, Autumn.
  • Handle: RePEc:rje:bellje:v:14:y:1983:i:autumn:p:531-538

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: full text
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to JSTOR subscribers. See for details.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Samet, Dov & Tauman, Yair, 1982. "The Determination of Marginal Cost Prices under a Set of Axioms," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 895-909, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Vlassopoulos, Michael, 2009. "Quality, reputation and the choice of organizational form," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 515-527, August.
    2. repec:eee:jhecon:v:55:y:2017:i:c:p:108-120 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Grout, Paul & Schnedler, Wendelin, 2008. "Non-Profit Organizations in a Bureaucratic Environment," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 08-17, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim;Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
    4. Natalie Privett & Feryal Erhun, 2011. "Efficient Funding: Auditing in the Nonprofit Sector," Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, INFORMS, vol. 13(4), pages 471-488, October.
    5. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:9:y:2005:i:3:p:1-13 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Ginger Zhe Jin & Alex Whalley, 2007. "The Power of Attention: Do Rankings Affect the Financial Resources of Public Colleges?," NBER Working Papers 12941, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Alexandre Marinho, 2015. "The Process of Public Resources Allocation for Investment in Hospital Capacities," Discussion Papers 0121, Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada - IPEA.
    8. Eric Rasmusen, 2014. "The Goals of the Corporation under Shareholder Primacy," Working Papers 2014-05, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
    9. Ebrahim, M. Shahid, 2009. "Can an Islamic model of housing finance cooperative elevate the economic status of the underprivileged?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 72(3), pages 864-883, December.
    10. Anup Malani & Tomas Philipson & Guy David, 2003. "Theories of Firm Behavior in the Nonprofit Sector. A Synthesis and Empirical Evaluation," NBER Chapters,in: The Governance of Not-for-Profit Organizations, pages 181-216 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Jed DeVaro & Dana Samuelson, 2005. "Why Are Promotions Less Likely in Nonprofit Firms?," Labor and Demography 0501010, EconWPA.
    12. Satoshi Shimizutani & Haruko Noguchi, 2005. "Nonprofit and for-profit providers in Japan's at-home care industry: evidence on quality of service and household choice," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 9(3), pages 1-13.
    13. Raymond Fisman & Yongxiang Wang, 2017. "The Distortionary Effects of Incentives in Government: Evidence from China's "Death Ceiling" Program," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 202-218, April.
    14. S.Y. Wu, 1996. "A General Equilibrium Model of the Three-Sector Competitive Economy," Microeconomics 9603002, EconWPA.
    15. Scharf, Kimberley, 2011. "Scale Scale Economies in Nonprofit Provision, Technology Adoption and Entry," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 45, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    16. Carlo Perroni & Ganna Pogrebna & Sarah Sandford & Kimberley Ann Scharf, 2014. "Are Donors Afraid of Charities' Core Costs? Scale Economies in Non-profit Provision and Charity Selection," CESifo Working Paper Series 5024, CESifo Group Munich.
    17. Daniel Kessler & Mark McClellan, 2001. "The Effects of Hospital Ownership on Medical Productivity," NBER Working Papers 8537, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Glaeser, Edward L. & Shleifer, Andrei, 2001. "Not-for-profit entrepreneurs," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 99-115, July.
    19. Cho, In Soo, 2012. "Four essays on risk preferences, entrepreneurship, earnings, occupations, and gender," ISU General Staff Papers 201201010800003883, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    20. Perroni, Carlo & Pogrebna, Ganna & Sandford, Sarah & Scharf, Kimberley, 2014. "Are Donors Afraid of Charities' Core Costs? Scale Economies in Non-profit Provision," CEPR Discussion Papers 10179, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    21. Albert H. Choi, . "Non-Profit Status and Relational Sanctions: Commitment to Quality through Repeat Interactions and Organizational Choice," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58(4).
    22. Jones, Daniel B. & Propper, Carol & Smith, Sarah, 2017. "Wolves in sheep’s clothing: Is non-profit status used to signal quality?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 108-120.
    23. Anup Malani & Guy David, 2008. "Does Nonprofit Status Signal Quality?," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 37(2), pages 551-576, June.
    24. Cho, In Soo & Orazem, Peter, 2013. "Are Nonprofit Entrepreneurs Also "Jacks-Of-All-Trades"?," Staff General Research Papers Archive 35750, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    25. Edwin West, 1989. "Nonprofit organizations: Revised theory and new evidence," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 63(2), pages 165-174, November.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:rje:bellje:v:14:y:1983:i:autumn:p:531-538. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.