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Outstanding Article in Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly

Monday, November 28, 2016   (0 Comments)
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The Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action

presents the

 

Outstanding Article in Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly

to

 

Lehn Benjamin

&

David C. Campbell

for

 

“Nonprofit Performance: Accounting for the Agency of Clients.” NVSQ. Vol. 44. No. 5.

 

The 2016 award for Outstanding Article in Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly goes to Lehn M. Benjamin and David C. Campbell for their article, “Nonprofit Performance: Accounting for the Agency of Clients,” which appeared in the October 2015 issue.

 

The article tackles a timely and much-debated, yet still understudied topic in our field: what drives nonprofit performance and how best to measure that performance. Benjamin and Campbell take a novel approach to studying performance in human service nonprofits, arguing that we need to rethink how we account for clients in our performance measures. Based on extensive qualitative research with frontline staff in eight human service nonprofits, they demonstrate convincingly that clients are not merely passive recipients of services, responding as staff intend – and that staff do not merely complete program activities in rote fashion. Instead, clients are active agents who build a partnership with staff and engage in what Benjamin and Campbell label “co-determination work.” Through co-determination work, clients and staff together set an agenda for change, define desired outcomes, and support client capacity to achieve their planned results. These findings call into question the accuracy and efficacy of most existing outcomes and performance measurement models. As the authors write, “Bringing co-determination work into focus deepens our understanding both of how nonprofits achieve outcomes and of what outcomes matter.”

 

The committee was deeply impressed by Benjamin and Campbell’s article because of its conceptual clarity, originality, exceptional research quality, and engaging style of presenting path-breaking findings. The authors carefully analyze the front-line reality of nonprofit work on its own terms, using extensive original data and avoiding the biases and blinders that sometimes come from pre-existing theoretical filters and limiting assumptions. They also introduce an exciting and useful new concept – co-determination work – and systematically review the dimensions of this new concept in a way that will surely inform its further exploration by other scholars. The committee is convinced that Benjamin and Campbell’s article will have wide appeal and application across the diverse community of nonprofit scholars, and that it will stand up over time as a seminal and much-cited contribution.

 

The selection committee included Dr. Lili Wang of Arizona State University, Dr. Pamala Wiepking of Erasmus University (Rotterdam, Netherlands), and Dr. Michael Moody of Grand Valley State University (Chair). The committee and the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action take great pleasure in awarding this year’s prize to Dr. Lehn M. Benjamin and Dr. David C. Campbell.

 

 


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