I am an associate professor of philanthropy and nonprofit studies and program coordinator of the Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies (PNPS) Program at Auburn University. My research focuses on how private actors exercise an influence in public life through associational and philanthropic vehicles in times of political, cultural, and economic crises. This approach guides my investigation of civil society and international philanthropy in building democratic practices of governance from both a historical and a contemporary perspective, as well as the analysis of philanthropic innovations through the lenses of program-related investments (PRIs). This broad-based approach and reliance on historical methods aims to track changes over time in associational action and philanthropic strategies, to better understand today’s philanthropic practices. As a multidisciplinary scholar, I published extensively in edited volumes and peer-reviewed journals, including diverse disciplinary outlets such as Voluntas, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Journal of Civil Society, Nonprofit Policy Forum, Global Society, Central European History, Journal of Public Affairs Education, and Journal of Nonprofit Education and Leadership.
Institutionalization Interrupted: The Evolution of the Field of Nonprofit Studies
Nonprofit studies is a relatively new academic field, emerging out of the policy challenges and the need for more professional nonprofit management practices of the 1970s and 1980s. This study proposes an evolutionary explanation for the field’s emergence, relying on the theoretical framework explaining the growth of scientific/intellectual movements. It argues that six driving forces favored the differentiation, mobilization, and legitimization of nonprofit studies. However, while scholarly associations and conferences, academic centers, external funders, publication opportunities, academic courses, and internationalization contributed to establishing the field within higher education, the field is challenged by tensions underlying these same six driving forces. The study suggests that the full institutionalization of the field depends on its ability to successfully overcome the tensions created by the dualisms of advocacy–research, theory–practice, and homogeneity–heterogeneity.