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Nonprofit and Voluntary - Nonprofit and Voluntary...

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Nonprofit and Voluntary The online version of this article can be found at: DOI: 10.1177/0899764003257463 Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 2003 32: 521 Judith L. Miller-Millesen Understanding the Behavior of Nonprofit Boards of Directors: A Theory-Based Approach Published by: On behalf of: Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action Additional services and information for Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly can be found at: Email Alerts: Subscriptions: Reprints: Permissions: Citations: What is This? >> Version of Record - Dec 1, 2003 Downloaded from nvs.sagepub.com at LIBERTY UNIV LIBRARY on November 3, 2014 Understanding Nonprofit BM1o0ai.l1rld1e7rs- 7oM/f0 iDl8le9irs9ee7cn6to40rs03257463 ARTICLE Understanding the Behavior of Nonprofit Boards of Directors: A Theory-Based Approach Judith L. Miller-Millesen Ohio University The literature on nonprofit boards of directors is rich with prescriptive advice about the kinds of activities that should occupy the board’s time and attention. Using organizational theory that has dominated the empirical investigation of private sector board behavior (agency,r esource dependence, and institutional),this article contributes to the literature on nonprofit board governance in three important ways. First,it provides a link between theory and practice by identifying the theoretical assumptions that have served as the foundation for the “best practice” literature. Second,the article presents a theory-based framework of board behavior that identifies the environmental conditions
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and board/organizational considerations that are likely to affect board behavior. And finally,it offers a set of hypotheses that can be used in future empirical investigations that seeks to understand the conditions under which a nonprofit board might assume certain roles and responsibilities over others. Keywords: nonprofit governance, boards of directors, organization theory In a recent comprehensive review of the literature on nonprofit governance, Ostrower&Stone (2001, p. 1) argued that there are “major gaps in our the oreticaland Empiric aknowledge” regarding nonprofit boards of directors. The authors acknowledged a small but growing body of research suggesting an increase in scholarly attention to and interest in “understanding rather than describing” board governance. However, they concluded that future research must address the contextualand contingent elements of governance and make explicit the implications of these considerations. I address this gap in the literature by critically examining the theoretical assumptions that underpin a Note: I would like to thank Mitchel Abolafia, David McCaffrey, and Sue Faerman for their support, guidance, and attention to detail throughout the writing of this article. I
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