Voluntary Sector Review
An international journal of third sector research, policy and practice

Trigger events and change agents: how non-profit boards improve their governance

View author details View Less
  • 1 Indiana University-Bloomington, , USA
  • | 2 Nonprofit Board Governance Consultant, , USA
Restricted access
Get eTOC alerts
Rights and permissions Cite this article

Despite active research on the performance of boards of directors, very little scholarship exists on how they intentionally recognise and act on the need for governance change. This gap has resulted in weak conceptual guidance for researchers and practitioners alike who are interested in change management. This article employs a multiple case study phenomenological analysis of member-serving organisations based in the United States that achieved substantive change at the board level, sometimes reshaping their boards and cultures in profound ways. Focused on the catalysts, agents and processes of governance change, the findings generally support the prevailing contingency theory perspective by describing patterns of change, stakeholder behaviour and goals that varied considerably from case to case. A change management lens is weakly supported in finding limited patterns in how leaders made change happen. A discussion follows of other potential conceptual lenses that may help explain successful strategic change management in non-profit boards.

  • Argyris, C. (1990) Overcoming Organizational Defenses, Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

  • Balogun, J. and Hailey, V.H. (2008) Exploring Strategic Change, London: Pearson Education.

  • Beatty, R.W. and Ulrich, D.O. (1993) Re-energizing the mature organization, in T.D. Jick (ed) Managing Change: Cases and Concepts, Boston, MA: Irwin/McGraw-Hill.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bovey, W.H. and Hede, A. (2001) Resistance to organizational change: the role of cognitive and affective processes, Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 22(8): 37282.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bradshaw, P. (2009) A contingency approach to nonprofit governance, Nonprofit Management and Leadership, 20(1): 6181. doi: 10.1002/nml.241

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bradshaw, P., Murray, V. and Wolpin, J. (1992) Do nonprofit boards make a difference? An exploration of the relationships among board structure, process, and effectiveness, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 21(3): 22749. doi: 10.1177/089976409202100304

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Brudney, J. L. and Murray, V. (1998) Do intentional efforts to improve boards really work? The views of nonprofit CEOs. Nonprofit management and leadership, 8(4): 33348.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Burnes, B. (2004) Kurt Lewin and the planned approach to change: a Re‐appraisal, Journal of Management Studies, 41(6): 9771002. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6486.2004.00463.x

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • By, R.T. (2005) Organisational change management: a critical review, Journal of Change Management, 5(4): 36980. doi: 10.1080/14697010500359250

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chait, R.P., Holland, T.P. and Taylor, B.E. (1993) The Effective Board of Trustees, Phoeniz, AZ: Oryx Press.

  • Collier, D. (1995) Translating quantitative methods for qualitative researchers: the case of selection bias, American Political Science Review, 89(2): 4616. doi: 10.2307/2082442

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dion, D. (2003) Evidence and inference in the comparative case study, in G. Goertz and H. Starr (eds) Necessary Conditions: Theory, Methodology, and Applications, Washington, DC: Roman & Littlefield, pp 95112.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Donaldson, L. (2001) The Contingency Theory of Organizations, London: Sage Publications.

  • Freiwirth, J. (2014) Community engagement governance: engaging stakeholders for community impact, in C. Cornforth and W.A. Brown (eds) Nonprofit Governance: Innovative Perspectives and Approaches, New York, NY: Routledge, pp 183209.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gazley, B. and Bowers, A. (2013) What Makes High-performing Boards Effective: Governance Practices in Member-serving Organizations, Washington, DC: ASAE Association Management Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gazley, B. and Guo, C. (2020) What do we know about nonprofit collaboration? A systematic review of the literature, Nonprofit Management and Leadership, 31(2): 21132. doi: 10.1002/nml.21433

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gazley, B. and Kissman, K. (2015) Transformational governance: How boards achieve extraordinary change, Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

  • Gill, M.J. (2014) The possibilities of phenomenology for organizational research, Organizational Research Methods, 17(2): 11837. doi: 10.1177/1094428113518348

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Goodstein, J. and Boeker, W. (1991) Turbulence at the top: a new perspective on governance structure changes and strategic change, Academy of Management Journal, 34(2): 30630.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Groenewald, T. (2004) A phenomenological research design illustrated, International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 3(1): 4255. doi: 10.1177/160940690400300104

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hameed, I., Khan, A.K., Sabharwal, M., Arain, G.A. and Hameed, I. (2019) Managing successful change efforts in the public sector: an employee’s readiness for change perspective, Review of Public Personnel Administration, 39(3): 398421. doi: 10.1177/0734371X17729869

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Harrison, Y.D. and Murray, V. (2015) The effect of an online self-assessment tool on nonprofit board performance, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 44(6): 112951. doi: 10.1177/0899764014557361

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Herman, R.D. and Heimovics, R.D. (1990) The effective nonprofit executive: leader of the board, Nonprofit Management and Leadership, 1(2): 16780. doi: 10.1002/nml.4130010207

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Isabella, L.A. (1992) Managing the challenges of trigger events: the mindsets governing adaptation to change, Business Horizons, 35(5): 5967. doi: 10.1016/0007-6813(92)90055-E

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • King, P.J. and Roberts, N.C. (1992) An investigation into the personality profile of policy entrepreneurs, Public Productivity & Management Review, 16(2): 17390. doi: 10.2307/3380990

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lewin, K. (1943) Psychological ecology, in D. Cartwright (ed) Field Theory in Social Science, London: Social Science Paperbacks.

  • Mento, A., Jones, R. and Dirndorfer, W. (2002) A change management process: grounded in both theory and practice, Journal of Change Management, 3(1): 4559. doi: 10.1080/714042520

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Miller-Millesen, J.L. (2003) Understanding the behavior of nonprofit boards of directors: a theory-based approach, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 32(4): 52147. doi: 10.1177/0899764003257463

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ostrower, F. and Stone, M.M. (2010) Moving governance research forward: aA contingency-based framework and data application, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 39(5): 90124. doi: 10.1177/0899764009338962

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Piderit, S.K. (2000) Rethinking resistance and recognizing ambivalence: a multidimensional view of attitudes toward an organizational change, Academy of Management Review, 25(4): 78394. doi: 10.2307/259206

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Reid, W. and Turbide, J. (2012) Board/staff relationships in a growth crisis: implications for nonprofit governance, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 41(1): 8299. doi: 10.1177/0899764011398296

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rosenbaum, D., More, E. and Steane, P. (2017) A longitudinal qualitative case study of change in nonprofits: suggesting a new approach to the management of change, Journal of Management & Organization, 23(1): 7491.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sabatier, P.A. (1988) An advocacy coalition framework of policy change and the role of policy-oriented learning therein, Policy Sciences, 21(2): 12968. doi: 10.1007/BF00136406

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • True, J.L., Jones, B.D. and Baumgartner, F.R. (1999) Punctuated-equilibrium theory: explaining stability and change in American policymaking, in P. Sabatier (ed) Theories of the Policy Process, London: Routledge, pp 97115.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Vito, R. and Sethi, B. (2020) Managing change: role of leadership and diversity management, Journal of Organizational Change Management, 33(7): 147183. doi: 10.1108/JOCM-04-2019-0116

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wilson, A.O. (2019) The role of storytelling in navigating through the storm of change, Journal of Organizational Change Management, 32(3): 38595. doi: 10.1108/JOCM-12-2018-0343

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Yin, R.K. (2013) Case Study Research: Design and Methods, London: Sage Publications.

  • Zhu, H., Wang, P. and Bart, C. (2016) Board processes, board strategic involvement, and organizational performance in for-profit and non-profit organizations, Journal of Business Ethics, 136(2): 31128. doi: 10.1007/s10551-014-2512-1

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 1 Indiana University-Bloomington, , USA
  • | 2 Nonprofit Board Governance Consultant, , USA

Content Metrics

May 2022 onwards Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 34 34 34
Full Text Views 46 46 4
PDF Downloads 25 25 3

Altmetrics

Dimensions