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Effectively Managing Nonprofit Organizations

If there is one constant in nonprofit management today, it is the need to deal with change. Contributing to this environment are changing conditions, such as increased demands for services provided by nonprofits; evolving service technologies; and reduced government appropriations for human services, the arts, and the humanities. However, also contributing to this environment are developments in management in the for-profit arena.

In the early 1980s, traditional approaches to American management began to be questioned. The characteristics of successful businesses and managers were identified, and questions were raised about whether management education programs were adequately preparing leaders for the realities of contemporary management. A major business school curriculum study (Porter & McKibbin, 1988) suggested that management education programs needed to place greater emphasis on human skills. Quinn, Faerman, Thompson, and McGrath (1990) noted that:

What is now available in management education is necessary but insufficient. All . . . modern organizations, as never before, and even at the lowest levels, are in need of competent managerial leaders. They want technical ability but they also want more. They want people who can survive and help organizations prosper in a world of constant change and intense competition. This means both technical competence and interpersonal excellence. (p. v)

Numerous books have been written about what makes for excellence, high productivity, and overall success (for example, Blake, Mouton, & Allen, 1987; Kanter, 1983; Lawler, 1986; Ouchi, 1981; Peters & Waterman, 1982). The management of nonprofit organizations is influenced greatly by what is happening in the for-profit or business sector. Today in for-profit organizations there is increasing stress on excellence, leadership, and accountability, as well as on human relations skills. Nonprofit managers must identify and acquire the technical, human relations, and conceptual skills and the various competencies needed to successfully lead nonprofit organizations in the years ahead.

Nonprofit managers often experience some difficulty using texts and training materials that were developed for the for-profit sector. This book addresses the particular needs of nonprofit managers. The content is aimed primarily at mid- and upper-level managers who can benefit from it directly as they strive daily to attain excellence, as well as indirectly as they help those they supervise do a better job of managing. Although this book is directed mostly to managers, it also will be useful to students who are studying nonprofit or public management.

Organizing Framework

The organizing framework for this book is a metatheoretical model of organizational and managerial effectiveness called the “competing values framework” (Edwards, 1987, 1990; Edwards, Faerman, & McGrath, 1986; Edwards & Yankey, 1991; Faerman, Quinn, & Thompson, 1987; Quinn, 1984, 1988; Quinn et al., 1990; Quinn & Rohrbaugh, 1981, 1983). This model, which is described more fully in Chapter 1, serves to integrate four contrasting sets of management skills: boundary-spanning, human relations, coordinating, and directing. Each set has two inherent roles that managers must play to be successful in that particular sphere of organizational activity. The eight roles are those of broker, innovator, mentor, facilitator, monitor, coordinator, producer, and director.

The competing values framework helps explicate that managers must function in a world of competing values in which their daily activities usually do not represent a choice between something “good” and something “bad.” Rather, most choices that managers must make are between two or more “goods” or values. As used in this book, the competing values framework helps managers consider the complexity and multiplicity of their roles within their organizations and stresses that the performance of a management role is rarely an either-or situation.

The first section of the book provides overviews of the competing values framework. The remaining chapters are organized into five sections. The first four sections relate to the four major sets of skills and the eight managerial roles identified in the competing values framework. The final section deals with the issue of leadership skills needed to manage in turbulent times, under conditions of financial uncertainty and changing organizational missions. Also included is an appendix that contains Web sites that may be of interest to nonprofit managers.

The validity and importance of the eight roles have been demonstrated in several empirical studies. One study (Quinn, Denison, & Hooijberg, 1989) of more than 700 managers revealed that the measures of the eight roles met standard validity tests and that the roles appear in the four indicated quadrants. Another study (Pauchant, Nilles, Sawy, & Mohrman, 1989) involving more than 900 managers also found support for the eight roles and indicated that of 36 possible roles, these eight were considered the most important ones to be performed by managers. Still another study (Quinn, 1988) found that managers who did not perform these eight roles well were considered ineffective, whereas those who did perform these roles well were considered very effective.

Learning Approach

This book is designed to be used in a number of ways. It can be used as an individualized learning tool, as a primary text for management-training programs or academic courses, or as a supplement to other texts. The chapters are organized in a way that facilitates the development of competencies needed to perform the various managerial roles identified in the book. The structure of the chapters represents a variation of a learning model developed by Whetten and Cameron (1984), which involves assessment, learning, analysis, practice, and application. The first chapter includes an assessment instrument that enables readers to gain insight into their relative strengths and weaknesses in relation to the eight management roles. Each chapter contains a narrative section that provides information about particular topics and one or more skills— application exercises that provide opportunities to apply the material to realistic job situations.

This book is a revision and expansion of two earlier books, Skills for Effective Human Services Management (Edwards & Yankey, 1991) and Skills for Effective Management of Nonprofit Organizations (Edwards, Yankey, & Altpeter, 1998). The topics addressed in the earlier versions and the present edition were identified as a result of the editors’ experiences as hands-on managers, consultants, trainers, and educators. The array of topics covers many competencies that are not typically found in a single management book but that are vitally important in the real world of nonprofit management. The authors are a diverse group in terms of gender, race, and ethnicity, and they bring a wealth of real-world management experience.

Finally, the editors believe that effective management requires, in addition to a wide range of technical and human relations skills, a healthy sense of humor. Thus, a number of cartoons have been included in the book.


Blake, R., Mouton, J., & Allen, R. (1987). Spectacular teamwork: How to develop the leadership skills for team success. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Edwards, R. L. (1987). The competing values approach as an integrating framework for the management curriculum. Administration in Social Work, 11(1), 1–13.

Edwards, R. L. (1990). Organizational effectiveness. In L. Ginsberg (Ed.), Encyclopedia of social work (18th ed., 1990 Supplement, pp. 244–255). Silver Spring, MD: NASW Press.

Edwards, R. L., Faerman, S. K., & McGrath, M. K. (1986). The competing values approach to organizational effectiveness: A tool for agency administrators. Administration in Social Work, 10(4), 1–14.

Edwards, R. L., & Yankey, J. A. (1991). Skills for effective human services management. Washington, DC: NASW Press.

Edwards, R. L., Yankey, J. A., & Altpeter, M. A. (1998). Skills for effective management of nonprofit organizations. Washington, DC: NASW Press.

Faerman, S. K., Quinn, K. E., & Thompson, M. P. (1987). Bridging management practice and theory. Public Administration Review, 47(3), 311–319.

Kanter, K. M. (1983). The change masters: Innovation for productivity in the American corporation. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Lawler, E. E., III. (1986). High-involvement management: Participative strategies for improving organizational performance. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Ouchi, W. C. (1981). Theory Z: How American business can meet the Japanese challenge. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Pauchant, T. C., Nilles, J., Sawy, O. E., & Mohrman, A. M. (1989). Toward a paradoxical theory of organizational effectiveness: An empirical study of the competing values model (Working Paper). Quebec City Canada: Laval University, Department of Administrative Sciences.

Peters, T. J., & Waterman, K. H., Jr. (1982). In search of excellence. New York: Harper & Row.

Porter, L. W., & McKibbin. (1988). Management education and development: Drift or thrust into the 21st century? New York: McGraw-Hill.

Quinn, K. E. (1984). Applying the competing values approach to leadership: Toward an integrative framework. In J. C. Hunt, D. Hosking, C. Schriescheim, & K. Stewart (Eds.), Leaders and managers: International perspectives on managerial behavior and leadership. Elmsford, NY: Pergamon Press.

Quinn, K. E. (1988). Beyond rational management: Mastering the paradoxes and competing demands of high performance. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Quinn, K. B., Denison, D., & Hooijberg, R. (1989). An empirical assessment of the competing values leadership instrument (Working Paper). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, School of Business.

Quinn, K. E., Faerman, S. K., Thompson, M. P., & McGrath, M. K. (1990). Becoming a master manager: A competency framework. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Quinn, K. B., & Rohrbaugh, J.A. (1981). A competing values approach to organizational effectiveness. Public Productivity Review, 5, 122–140.

Quinn, R. B., & Rohrbaugh, J. A. (1983). A spatial model of effectiveness criteria: Toward a competing values approach to organizational analysis. Management Science, 29(3), 363–377.

Whetten, D. A., & Cameron, K. S. (1984). Developing management skills. Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman.