non-profit research in b-schools

Question: Which b-schools are strong in scholars who study non-profits?

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Written by fabiorojas

September 22, 2012 at 12:01 am

Posted in fabio, nonprofit

3 Responses

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  1. That’s a great question. I think Northwestern has to be one of the top places. We have incredible scholars across the business school – some political scientists and economists even – who are interested in nonprofits or the link between nonprofits and business. Our joint phd program in sociology and management has begun attracting a number of really smart people who are interested in nonprofit organizations. That said, I think our primary focus is on organizational theory. We believe you can apply it to any type of organization.

    Of course, I’m quite biased because of my own position here. I’d be interested in hearing who our main competitors are.


    brayden king

    September 23, 2012 at 12:42 pm

  2. I’m biased too (full disclosure, I’m a PhD at Stanford GSB), but I think Stanford is a pretty wonderful place as well. I recently applied to grad school to study the nonprofit sector, so in my own scan I’d say that Stanford, Northwestern and Harvard were at the top of my list. Here’s why:

    For example, Woody Powell here’s along with some poli sci folks (like Rob Reich) on campus. You could also make an argument (maybe a stretch?) that social movement scholars (like Brayden) are the most common thing you see at B-schools that relates to nonprofit research. Stanford GSB’s really strong there with Huggy Rao and Sarah Soule. You also have the social psych people who do research on pro-social behavior, like Frank Flynn. So it’s a pretty well-rounded bunch.

    I think they had the first faculty initiative for research on social enterprise. There’s a bunch of folks there who are relatively young, like Alnoor Ebrahim who have an interest in nonprofit organizations specifically. If you fold in social enterprise (depends on your definition), it’ll often include some nonprofits. Julie Battilana’s (disclosure again, I work with her) doing some great work on social enterprises and hybrid organizations more generally. Mike Norton also does a lot of social pysch work on philanthropy.

    You got Brayden, Klaus Weber and even Burton Weisbrod (who did a bunch of foundational economic theory of nonprofits). Brayden could describe the resources there more articulately then I could, but they’re great.



    September 24, 2012 at 8:34 pm

  3. If we get to be biased AND stretch the definition of “non-profit” to include social enterprise, and also include faculty that are only at the b-school in spirit (like Woody), then we better put Michigan in the mix. We have a long-standing Nonprofit and Public Management Center joint among business, policy, and social work ( and faculty in many areas doing work on nonprofits, including economists who study tax effects (e.g., Jim Hines), management people studying nonprofit governance (Lynne Wooten), sociologists who study particular types of nonprofits like botanical gardens (Victoria Johnson) or university-corporate relations (Jason Owen-Smith), and amateur sociologists like myself who study the community-level features that promote the growth or decline of nonprofits. And at Michigan everyone gets along regardless of department or school, so one is not limited to hanging out at the b-school.



    September 24, 2012 at 10:45 pm

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