Negotiating Accountability: Managerial Lessons from Identity-Based Nonprofit Organizations

Ospina, S., Diaz, W. & O'Sullivan, J.
Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, March, Vol 31, No. 1, pp. 5-31.

This article explores the emerging conceptualization of accountability in nonprofit organizations. This definition broadens traditional concerns with finances, internal controls, and regulatory compliance. The authors explore how the top-level managers of 4 identity-based nonprofit organizations (IBNPs) faced accountability and responsiveness challenges to accomplish their mission. The organization-community link was the core relationship in their accountability environment, helping the IBNP managers achieve what the literature calls "negotiated accountability." The managers favored organizational mechanisms to sustain this relationship in the midst of the accountability demands they experienced daily. Communication with the primary constituency tended to drive the organization's priorities and programs, helped managers find legitimate negotiation tools with other stakeholders, and helped develop a broader notion of accountability. The authors discuss the implications of these findings for other nonprofit organizations and propose questions to further clarify the concepts of broad accountability, negotiated accountability, and the link between accountability and responsiveness in nonprofits.

Wagner Faculty