Together and apart: Exploring structure of the corporate-NPO relationship

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26 Citations (Scopus)


Financially significant relationships between corporations and non-profit organizations (NPOs) have increased in recent years. NPOs offer access to interests and ideologies that are lacking within most for-profit organizations. These partnerships form a unique bridge between for-profit and non-profit goals and offer significant potential to produce innovative ways of doing business by doing good. Exploration of the structural implications of these relationships, however, has been limited. The potential for ideological imbalance in these relationships, particularly for the NPO, has been poorly described. We explore the structure of Corporate-NPO relationships from the NPO s perspective under high pressure conditions such as large relational investments or negative pressure from stakeholders. Using data collected from 20 NPOs in Australia, we identified the use by NPOs of both formal and informal governance mechanisms within their partnerships. These mechanisms acted to align and defend important goals of the NPO. They allowed the NPO and their corporate partners to be simultaneously together and apart. Our study offers important insight toward the study of cross-sector relationships and the role of governance mechanisms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297 - 311
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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