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The Governance of Not-For-Profit Firms

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  • Edward L. Glaeser

Abstract

Many factors including incentive-pay, powerful shareholders, and takeover threats push for-profits managers towards maximizing shareholder value. One of the most striking factors about non-profit firms is that they have no comparable governance institutions, and the only check on managers are boards that are themselves rarely responsible to anyone outside the firm. This essay discusses the implications of these weak governance institutions on non-profit behavior. A primary implication is that non-profits will often evolve into organizations that resemble workers' cooperatives. The primary check on this tendency is the need of the organizations to compete in outside markets. After presenting a model of non-profit behavior, I look at four different sectors (hospitals, museums, universities and the church). All display significant signs of capture by elite workers, but all still perform their basic missions reasonably, probably because of market competition.

Suggested Citation

  • Edward L. Glaeser, 2002. "The Governance of Not-For-Profit Firms," NBER Working Papers 8921, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8921
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    1. McCormick, Robert E & Meiners, Roger E, 1988. "University Governance: A Property Rights Perspective," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(2), pages 423-442, October.
    2. Pauly, Mark V & Redisch, Michael, 1973. "The Not-For-Profit Hospital as a Physicians' Cooperative," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(1), pages 87-99, March.
    3. David M. Cutler & Jill R. Horwitz, 1998. "Converting Hospitals from Not-for-profit to For-profit Status," NBER Working Papers 6672, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Auriol, Emmanuelle & Brilon, Stefanie, 2014. "Anti-social behavior in profit and nonprofit organizations," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 149-161.
    2. Peter Nunnenkamp & Hannes Öhler, 2012. "Funding, Competition and the Efficiency of NGOs : An Empirical Analysis of Non‐charitable Expenditure of US NGOs Engaged in Foreign Aid," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(1), pages 81-110, February.
    3. Sonja Grönblom & Johan Willner, 2013. "Marketization and alienation in academic activity," Chapters,in: Leadership and Cooperation in Academia, chapter 7, pages 88-106 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    4. Odile Paulus & Christophe Lejeune, 2013. "What do board members in art organizations do? A grounded theory approach," Journal of Management & Governance, Springer;Accademia Italiana di Economia Aziendale (AIDEA), vol. 17(4), pages 963-988, November.
    5. Jeffrey P. Ballou, 2008. "Do Nonprofit And Government Nursing Homes Enter Unprofitable Markets?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 46(2), pages 241-260, April.
    6. Gaynor, Martin & Town, Robert J., 2011. "Competition in Health Care Markets," Handbook of Health Economics, Elsevier.
    7. Patrick Francois, 2003. "Not-For-Profit Provision of Public Services," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(486), pages 53-61, March.
    8. Franck Bailly & Karine Chapelle, 2013. "The Training of Jobseekers by Non-profit Organizations: An Analysis Based on Data from the Upper Normandy Region of France," Metroeconomica, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(4), pages 645-682, November.
    9. Joëlle Noailly & Sabine Visser & Paul Grout, 2007. "The impact of market forces on the provision of childcare: Insights from the 2005 Childcare Act in the Netherlands," CPB Memorandum 176, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
    10. Rodolfo Apreda, 2003. "THE SEMANTICS OF GOVERNANCE. (The common thread running through corporate, public, and global governance.)," CEMA Working Papers: Serie Documentos de Trabajo. 245, Universidad del CEMA.
    11. C. Du Bois & R. Caers & M. Jegers & C. Schepers & S. De Gieter & R. Pepermans, 2004. "Agency problems and unrelated business income of non-profit organizations: an empirical analysis," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(20), pages 2317-2326.
    12. Paul A. Grout & Michelle J. Yong, 2003. "The Role of Donated Labour and Not for Profit at the Public/Private Interface," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 03/074, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
    13. repec:got:cegedp:109 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Rodolfo Apreda, 2002. "Incremental cash flows, information sets and conflicts of interest," CEMA Working Papers: Serie Documentos de Trabajo. 220, Universidad del CEMA.
    15. Pierre Koning & Joëlle Noailly & Sabine Visser, 2007. "Do non-profits make a difference? Evaluating non-profit vis-à-vis for-profit organisations in social services," CPB Document 142, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
    16. Pierre Koning & Joëlle Noailly & Sabine Visser, 2007. "Do Not-For-Profits Make a Difference in Social Services? A Survey Study," De Economist, Springer, vol. 155(3), pages 251-270, September.
    17. Zahra, Shaker A. & Gedajlovic, Eric & Neubaum, Donald O. & Shulman, Joel M., 2009. "A typology of social entrepreneurs: Motives, search processes and ethical challenges," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 24(5), pages 519-532, September.
    18. Alexander Whalley & Justin Hicks, 2014. "Spending Wisely? How Resources Affect Knowledge Production In Universities," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 52(1), pages 35-55, January.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G3 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance
    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods

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