The Nature of the Nonprofit Sector

Edited by J. Steven Ott, Lisa A. Dicke

Third Edition • July 7, 2015 • 440 pages

Print ISBN: 9780813349602 • $57.00 USD$56.50 CAN


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The Nature of the Nonprofit Sector is a collection of insightful and influential classic and recent readings on the existence, forms and functions of the nonprofit sector—the sector that sits between the market and government. The book encompasses everything from Andrew Carnegie’s turn-of-the-century philosophy of philanthropy to the most recent writings by current scholars and practitioners from a wide variety of perspectives and disciplines. Each part in the book opens with a framing essay by the editors that provides an overview of the central themes and issues, as well as the sometimes competing points of view.

The third edition has been thoroughly revised and updated to feature new essays that analyze the nonprofit sector’s place in our economy and its relationship to our government, and new readings on the economic, community, and civil society theories of the nonprofit sector. The Nature of the Nonprofit Sector is thorough, topical, and above all, accessible to students, making it the ideal text for graduate and upper-division undergraduate nonprofit organizations and management survey courses.

J. Steven Ott is Director of the Institute of Public and International Affairs and professor of political science at the University of Utah. He has served as a consultant to numerous nonprofit organizations and local and state government agencies, and has chaired the Executive Committee of the Nonprofit Management Education Section of the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA). Dr. Ott has authored and edited many books, articles, and chapters on the nonprofit sector and its organizations, organization theory, organizational behavior, human resource management, administrative theory, accountability, and organizational culture.

Lisa A. Dicke is a professor of public administration at the University of North Texas. Dr. Dicke serves on the Executive Council and on the Committee of the Nonprofit Management Education Section of the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA). Her research interests include organizational leadership, as well as accountability in government and nonprofit organizations, and her articles have been published in numerous books and journals.

Kirsten Grønbjerg


Part I. Introduction to the Nonprofit Sector

1. The Idea of a Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector
Peter Frumkin (2002)

2. The Nonprofit Sector and Its Place in the National Economy
Katie L. Roeger, Amy S. Blackwood & Sarah L. Pettijohn (2012)

3. Defining and Theorizing the Third Sector
Olaf Corry (2011)

Part II. The Nonprofit Sector’s Historical Evolution, Distinctive Values, and Contributions to Society

4. Brief History of the Nonprofit Sector
Thomas P. Holland & Roger A. Ritvo (2008)

5. The Gospel of Wealth
Andrew Carnegie (1889)

6. The Impact of the Voluntary Sector on Society
David Horton Smith (1973)

Part III. Tax-Exemption and Tax-Deduction

7. Tax-Exempt Organization.
Christopher Hoyt (1998)

8. The Charitable Sector’s Relationship with Government
Molly F. Sherlock & Jane G. Gravelle (2009)

Part IV. Economic Theories of the Nonprofit Sector

9. Ownership and Organizational Form: Nonprofit Firms
Henry Hansmann (2013)

10. Market Failure
Lester M. Salamon (1999)

11. Contract Failure Theory
Dennis R. Young (1998)

12. Government Failure Theory
Dennis R. Young (1998)

13. Devolution, Marketization, and the Changing Shape of Government-Nonprofit Relations
Kirsten A. Grønbjerg & Lester M. Salamon (2012)

Part V. Political Theories of the Nonprofit Sector

14. The Constitution of Citizens: Political Theories of Nonprofit Organizations
Elisabeth S. Clemens (2006)

15. Citizenship and Prosocial Behavior
Marc A. Musick & John Wilson (2008)

VI. Community Theories of the Nonprofit Sector

16. To Empower People: The Role of Mediating Structures in Public Policy
Peter L. Berger & Richard John Neuhaus (1977)

17. Nonprofit Organizations and Community
Steven Rathgeb Smith & Michael Lipsky (1993)

18. Organizational Social Capital and Nonprofits
Jo Anne Schneider (2009)

VII. Civil Society Theories of the Nonprofit Sector

19. Bowling Alone: Thinking About Social Change in America
Robert D. Putnam (2000)

20. Civil Society as a Public Sphere
Sabine Lang (2013)

Part VIII. Theories of Giving and Philanthropy

21. Giving Well, Doing Good
Amy A. Kass (2008)

22. What is Altruism?
Alan Wolf (1998)

23. Doing Good
David H. Smith (2005)

24. Philanthropy in Communities of Color
Bradford Smith, Sylvia Shue, Jennifer Lisa Vest & Joseph Villarreal (1999)

Part IX. The Blending and Blurring of the Sectors

25. Third Party Government.
Dennis R. Young (1998)

26. The Future of the Nonprofit Sector: Its Entwining with Private Enterprise and Government.
Burton A. Weisbrod (1997)

27. From Welfare Bureaucracies to Welfare Hybrids
David Billis (2010)

Part X. The Nonprofit Sector Internationally: The Global Context

28. Government-Nonprofit Relations from an International Perspective
Lester M. Salamon (2006)

29. Organizations that Straddle the State-Society Divide: Illuminating Blind Spots of Existing Paradigms
Benjamin L. Read & Robert Pekkanen (2009, 2014)

30. International Assistance
Abby Stoddard (2012)

“Ott and Dicke should be applauded for their outstanding efforts, which bridge the macro and micro levels of the nonprofit sector for the first time and consequentially enrich the intellectual understanding of the field.”
Public Administration Review, Vol. 73, Issue 1, January/February, 2013

“This book has the “classic readings” for those who are studying nonprofit organizations and civil society. The editors have done the work for you – assembling all of the things our students should read. If you want to understand the theories behind the nonprofit sector, this is the book to read.”
Joanne Carman, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

“I think the general coverage and organization of the book is good, and it works for the way I teach the material. The articles/material in the 2nd edition seem to me well-chosen. […]This version of the Ott book strikes me as a useful, down the center, approach to the subject.”
Stanley Katz, Princeton University

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