Publication Date

2016

Document Type

Dissertation/Thesis

First Advisor

Schatteman, Alicia

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Department

Department of Political Science

LCSH

Nonprofit organizations||Knowledge management||Absorptive capacity (Economics)

Abstract

This dissertation explores how nonprofit organizations gather and leverage new information in order to build the capacity of their agencies. A theoretical framework from literature across several disciplines spanning organization learning, knowledge management, and nonprofit capacity building is built. The majority of capacity building literature focuses on programmatic, organizational, or adaptive capacities. It is here that this dissertation adds new insight by arguing that a fourth capacity, absorptive capacity, is critical to developing a nonprofit organization. Absorptive capacity is a construct developed by Cohen and Levinthal (1989; 1990) and Zahra and George (2002) to explain how an organization acquires, assimilates, transforms, and exploits new information. This project utilized a comparative case study to test the research question, to what extent do nonprofit organizations exhibit absorptive capacity? Four broad theoretical propositions explored how the size of the organization, its leadership, strategic outlook, and membership in national bodies or participation in accrediting processes influence absorptive capacity. The data analysis indicates absorptive capacity is evident in the nonprofit setting and is influenced by both internal and external factors such as size, leadership, strategic outlook, members, and accreditation standards. This research contributes to emerging nonprofit knowledge management literature and extends existing nonprofit capacity building scholarship, and provides insight for nonprofit practitioners contemplating capacity building initiatives and navigating everyday pressures of nonprofit management. It provides a foundation for future research to further develop exactly how information absorption influences capacity building in the nonprofit setting.

Comments

Advisors: Alicia M. Schatteman.||Committee members: Kerry O. Ferris; Barton M. Sharp; Kurt Thurmaier.||Includes bibliographical references.||Includes illustrations.

Extent

ix, 237 pages

Language

eng

Publisher

Northern Illinois University

Rights Statement

In Copyright

Rights Statement 2

NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

Media Type

Text

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