Out of the Shadows: Using Value Pluralism to Make Explicit Economic Values in Not-for-Profit Business Strategies

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Journal Article
Journal of Business Ethics, 2016, 139 (2), pp. 299 - 312
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© 2015, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. In the last decade, Australian federal and state governments’ commitment to the economic rationalist imperatives of performance measures, accountability for outcomes, and value-for-money has driven significant change in the Australian not-for-profit community services sector. In an environment shaped by neoliberal-inspired government policies and a renewed government commitment to austerity, Australian not-for-profit community service organizations are now, more than ever, actively engaged in a variety of income-generating strategies to achieve and/or maintain economic sustainability. Central to this process is meeting the dual challenge of succeeding financially in a competitive environment and simultaneously serving mission. In this context, it is time to more closely examine the impact of these challenges, in particular the implications for the organizational values of not-for-profit community service providers themselves. This paper reports on a qualitative study of fourteen not-for-profit community service organizations, their core purposes, and their strategies for economic sustainability. In addition to the new data presented here, this paper contributes to the broader theoretical framework—the lens of value pluralism, which, we argue, provides a sharper focus on the relationship between mission and margin.
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