The Right People in the Wrong System: Examining the Tension Between Nonprofit Individuals and Organizational Structure
Date of Graduation
Master of Arts in Organization and Leadership (O&L)
School of Education
Nonprofit organizations pursue missions of social good while still operating within the confines of systems of oppression, creating a tension between organizational values and operational success. Previous research focuses on the micro-level role of individuals and the macro-level role of ideologies that create these tensions for nonprofit workers in these spaces. Through a qualitative case study, this thesis seeks to uncover the meso-level role of organizational structures in the experiences of nonprofit workers. The research questions that guided this case study were (a) How does one organization present equitable working conditions for its staff? (b) How do staff at this organization experience the working conditions? (c) What kinds of external influences support or challenge these working conditions? Six staff members at a small nonprofit dedicated to social justice storytelling were interviewed about their experiences. Using the theoretical framework of racialized organizations, the study found that the values of a nonprofit and how individuals embody them play an integral role in how a culture develops and is experienced at the organization. An organizational structure was found to be reliant on how the individuals understand and believe it is supposed to operate, and these beliefs are rooted in cultural concepts that can both perpetuate and counter Whiteness and its ideals.
Vong, Erin, "The Right People in the Wrong System: Examining the Tension Between Nonprofit Individuals and Organizational Structure" (2023). Master's Theses. 1470.
Leadership Studies Commons, Nonprofit Studies Commons, Organization Development Commons, Social Justice Commons