Panel Paper: Nonprofit Organizations in a Policy World: The Importance of Incorporating Nonprofits in the Public Administration/Public Policy Curriculum

Saturday, November 8, 2014 : 1:45 PM
Enchantment Ballroom A (Hyatt)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Shelly Arsneault, California State University, Fullerton and Shannon Vaughan, Western Kentucky University
Nonprofit organizations make, influence, are affected by, and are subject to public policy.  These four facets of the relationship between nonprofits and public policy comprise our theoretical framework and illustrate our basic argument that it is impossible to fully understand nonprofits or public policy independently of one another (Vaughan and Arsneault, 2014; 2008).  When you also consider the expanding emphasis on social responsibility within the for-profit sector, it becomes difficult to delineate between the public, nonprofit, and for-profit sectors (e.g. Smith, 2008; Dees and Anderson, 2003).

Because of this increased blurring of the lines between sectors, it is important for public administrators to have a greater understanding of the complexity that intersectorality imposes on the provision of public goods and services.  Individual courses and concentrations in nonprofit management are critical to training the next generation of nonprofit leaders.  However, it is equally important that the next generation of government managers understand the vital and increasing role that nonprofit organizations play with regard to public policy. Therefore, we believe that nonprofit organizations should be incorporated more fully across the curriculum of MPA/MPP programs. 

Our paper explores the symbiotic relationships between nonprofits and public policy in which each is influenced to varying degrees by the other.  Using our four-faceted framework, we make the argument for incorporating discussion of nonprofit organizations in each course in the MPA/MPP curriculum, especially public policy courses.


Vaughan, Shannon K. and Shelly Arsneault. 2014. Managing Nonprofit Organizations in a Policy World. Washington, DC: CQ Press. (published January 8, 2013)

Vaughan, Shannon K. and Shelly Arsneault.  2008.  Not-for-Profit Advocacy:  Challenging Policy Images and Pursuing Policy Change Review of Policy Research. 25(5): pp.411-28.

Smith, Steven Rathgeb. 2008. The Increased Complexity of Public Services:  Curricular Implications for Schools of Public Affairs, Journal of Public Affairs Education, 14(2): 115-128.

Dees, J. Gregory and Beth Battle Anderson. 2003.  Sector-Bending: Blurring Lines between Nonprofit and For-Profit, Society 40:16-27.

Full Paper: