Role of Nonprofit Enterprise

In: Social Issues

Submitted By sandra87
Words 17197
Pages 69
Trust, Repute, and the Role of Nonprofit Enterprise [The book version] by Andreas Ortmann* & Mark Schlesinger** Abstract In this chapter we examine the trust hypothesis: the proposition that information asymmetries between providers and consumers of services can explain the existence of nonprofit enterprise in certain markets. We argue that this hypothesis, in order to be viable, has to meet three challenges: (1) the de jure inability of nonprofits to distribute profits to shareholders and/or management must affect incentives within the nonprofit firm in ways that are compatible with trustworthiness (Aincentive compatibility challenge@), (2) nonprofit behavior must not be adulterated by individuals taking advantage of the perceived trustworthiness (Aadulteration challenge@), and (3) nonprofit status must be treated as a reliable predictor of organizational behavior by consumers, when the reputation of individual firms is not seen as reliable (Areputational ubiquity challenge@). We propose that the trust hypothesis stands on shaky ground. It can be sustained only under particular conditions that have been neither carefully described in theory nor subject to empirical assessment. The available evidence, patchy and inadequate as it is, seems to suggest that there are ownership-related differences in the organizational behavior of non-profits and for-profits. However, there is little evidence that these differences can be connected to trust per se or provide a rationale for the existence of nonprofit ownership. * Center of Economic Research and Graduate Education at Charles University and Economics Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic. E-mail: andreas.ortmann@cerge-ei.cz or aortmann@yahoo.com ** School of Medicine, Yale University. E-mail: mjs4@email.med.yale.edu Note: A shorter version of this paper has been published under the same title in…...

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