Featured Working Papers


Melissa M. Stone, University of Minnesota, 2011 RGK-ARNOVA President’s Award for Nonprofit Research
This paper presents results from a research study on charter school governance in Minnesota, the first state to enact charter school legislation in 1991.  The paper examines the effects of the political and institutional environments on charter school governance, pays particular attention to how charter school boards navigate their legally mandated hybrid status, and analyzes the effects of hybridity on governance practices and school performance. The paper makes theoretical and empirical contributions to our understanding of governance in strong institutional environments and the implications of hybridity for governance practices.  
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Eve Garrow, University of Michigan, 2010 RGK-ARNOVA President’s Award for Nonprofit Research
By virtue of their hybrid identity as both nonprofit human service organizations and commercial businesses, work integration social enterprises (WISEs) are subject to institutional pluralism, creating tensions between mission and market. These tensions are embodied in the dual role of clients, who are constituted as both service recipients and instruments of production.  Drawing linkages between institutional logics and political economy perspectives, this paper develops and tests a theoretical model that seeks to explain the conditions under which clients are commodified. Comparative analysis of a theoretical sample of WISEs suggests that relative embeddedness across human service and business fields, the distribution of power across social service and production units, and the extent to which the service unit is closely coupled to the production unit combine to determine how clients are constructed and treated in the organization.   
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The Professor Is In: Classroom Techniques That Capture Critical Issues in Volunteer Management

by Dr. Sarah Jane Rehnborg

Dr. Sarah Jane Rehnborg published a two-part feature article focused on classroom techniques for teaching critical issues in volunteer management in the January and April 2013 editions of e-Volunteerism, an online journal for volunteer leaders. Part 1 focused on using role plays, case studies, and current events to illustrate core concepts for students who lack real-life experience in volunteerism and the nonprofit world. Part 2 explored factors to consider in designing internship experiences and techniques for teaching critical thinking that help students learn and question core assumptions within the field.

Working Papers

Inside National Service: AmeriCorps’ Short-Term Impact on Participants

Peter Frumkin, JoAnn Jastrzab, and Margaret L. Vaaler
This study examines for the first time the short-term impact of AmeriCorps participation on members’ civic engagement, education, employment, and life skills. The analysis compares changes in the attitudes and behaviors of participants over time to those of similarly interested individuals not enrolled in AmeriCorps, controlling for interest in national and community service, member and family demographics, and prior civic engagement. Results indicate that participation in AmeriCorps led to positive impacts on members, especially in the area of civic engagement, members’ connection to community, knowledge about problems facing their community, participation in community-based activities. AmeriCorps had some impact on its members’ personal growth and selected employment-related outcomes. Significant impacts were not found for measures of participants’ attitude toward education or educational attainment, or for selected life skills measures. The study also uncovers significant but negative impact of a participation programmatic variant of AmeriCorps on participants’ appreciation for ethnic and cultural diversity.

Diversity on Cultural Boards: Implications for Organizational Value and Impact

Dr. Francie Ostrower, The University of Texas at Austin 

This working paper by the RGK Center’s Dr. Francie Ostrower presents the results of a recent study sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts’ Research: Arts Works program. Analyzing national data on over 400 nonprofit arts and cultural organizations, the study examines current levels of diversity among boards and factors associated with fostering or inhibiting greater board diversity. Finding that these boards are typically quite homogeneous with respect to race and ethnicity, the paper identifies steps that arts and cultural organizations can take to help make their boards become more diverse and areas for future research. While the study focuses primarily on racial and ethnic diversity, attention is also given to gender, occupation, and age, as well as to comparisons between the arts and nonprofits in other fields of activity. The paper is available here.


Restore Rundberg

RGK Center Director Dr. David W. Springer currently serves as the Principal Investigator of