Building a policy fields framework to inform research on nonprofit organizations

Melissa M Stone, Jodi R Sandfort

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Although the importance of the public policy environment for strategic action of nonprofit organizations has become increasingly clear, research on nonprofits is often divorced from their policy context. The purpose of this article is to present a theoretically informed framework for analyzing policy environments that can inform nonprofit research. Drawing on insights from political science, organization theory, public management, and nonprofit studies, the authors propose that the framework reflects a policy field that is an identifiable set of elements in a specific environment that directly shapes local public service provision. These elements include the structures created by institutions that deliver public programs and the ways in which state and local actors interact with and shape these structures as they work on public problems. Through a research example, the article presents the policy field framework's analytic steps.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1054-1075
Number of pages22
JournalNonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2009


  • Networks
  • Nonprofits
  • Public policy
  • Structuration theory


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