The training grounds of democracy? Social trends and nonprofit governance
Hough, Alan, McGregor-Lowndes, Myles, & Ryan, Christine M. (2005) The training grounds of democracy? Social trends and nonprofit governance. In Social Change in the 21st Century Conference, 28 October 2005, QUT Carseldine, Brisbane.
Some Australian nonprofit organisations report that it is difficult to recruit and engage directors (Woodward and Marshall 2004). Indeed, evidence from overseas is that these difficulties are increasing (Charity Commission for England and Wales 2005c; Putnam 2000).
It has been argued that nonprofit boards of directors are a training ground for democracy, enabling citizens to learn and practice the important skills of advocacy, negotiation, compromise, strategising, and collective decision-making (Dalton and Lyons 2005; Reiser 2003; Skocpol 2003; Verba, Schlozman and Brady 1995). If so, then difficulties in recruiting and engaging directors have important implications for civil society.
This paper explores the relevant data regarding director recruitment and engagement. It argues that there are two trends which might result in organisations experiencing such difficulties. First, there is a trend of increasing expectations of nonprofit boards. Legal and social expectations of boards and individual directors have substantially increased, which may make potential directors wary of taking on the responsibility of board service.
Second, it is possible that social trends are reducing the supply of potential directors. For the US, Putnam (2000) has argued that declining civic engagement is due to: pressures of time and money, and in particular the special pressures of two-career families; urban sprawl and increased time spent commuting; increased time spent watching television and related entertainment; and the gradual passing of the World War II-generation, a generation which proved to be exceptionally civically-minded. This paper will explore the available Australian data – limited though it is - relevant to Putnam’s argument.
We argue that the combination of these trends may result in adverse implications for individual organisations and for civil society as a whole. The paper explores some possible approaches to resolving these difficulties.
Citation countsare sourced monthly fromand citation databases.
These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science generally from 1980 onwards.
Citations counts from theindexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.
Full-text downloadsdisplays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.
|Item Type:||Conference Paper|
|Keywords:||nonprofit organisations, boards of directors, governance, legal responsibilities, demographic trends|
|Subjects:||Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > SOCIOLOGY (160800) > Social Change (160805)|
|Divisions:||Current > Research Centres > Centre for Social Change Research|
Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > QUT Carseldine - Humanities & Human Services
|Copyright Owner:||Copyright 2005 (The authors)|
|Deposited On:||25 Aug 2006|
|Last Modified:||29 Feb 2012 23:14|
Repository Staff Only: item control page