Cui Bono? Public and Private Goals in Nonprofit Organizations

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Who benefits (cui bono) from nonprofit organizational structures and practices? I draw on interviews, observation, and archival data from 25 grantmaking foundations to examine the mechanisms by which “charitable” institutions are designed to serve the private interests of internal members. I develop a framework to analyze how both public and private goals inform organizational design, exploring the dual, continuous, and dynamic nature of this process. This framework enables scholarship on nonprofit organizational behavior to examine private interests in a uniquely robust manner. Furthermore, it provides tools to study organizations’ evolution through varied functions and forms over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)973-1014
Number of pages42
JournalAdministration and Society
Issue number7
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018


  • charitable organizations
  • grantmaking foundations
  • nonprofits
  • organizational design
  • practices
  • private goals
  • private interests
  • routines


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