Individual and group perceptions of nonprofit organizations’ performance: An exploratory multilevel quantitative approach

Individual and group perceptions of nonprofit organizations’ performance: An exploratory multilevel quantitative approach
Patrick Valéau | Jurgen Willems | Hassen Parak

EMES-SOCENT Conference Selected Papers, ECSP-LG13-65

Since all nonprofit organizations (NPOs) do not have the same goals, values and means, we analyze their performance as a construct reflecting the fit perceived by their members between quality of management actions and the organizational mission. This constructivist approach does not directly deal with actual performance but rather with subjective cognition of the latter. This interpretation of the activities of NPOs by their members actually takes place within frameworks rooted in the vision that defines the mission of the organization, often taking into account multidimensional performance (Valéau, 2011; Willems et al, 2013) including, for instance, economic, social and political performance (EMES, 2011). This evaluation process combines perception and sensemaking (Piaget, 1971). As far as this research is concerned, we consider three aspects of perceived performance: “perceived effectiveness”, “intention to stay” and “sharing the same values”? Drawing from social psychology, we consider that such interpretative process develops at individual as well as group levels.

Our first series of hypotheses consider that individuals’ perceptions of performance are influenced by their commitment. The latter will influence their interpretation of the values and goals of their NPO, and, within this framework, it will also introduce a positive or, eventually, negative bias in the evaluation of its actions and results. Commitment, as studied in this research, combines two different aspects, we talk about “attitudinal commitment” and “behavioral commitment”. We study attitudinal commitment, referring to Allen and Meyer’s four dimensions model: affective commitment refers to attachment and identification of the individual, normative commitment evokes a sense of moral obligation, high investment  accounts for advantages related to staying in the organization, low alternatives relates to a situation where the individual feels stuck. We analyze types of “behavioral commitment” as forms of participation in the functioning of the organization, first, at an official and formal strategic level in terms of participative governance (Hoarau & Laville, 2008 ; Cornforth, 2004) , and second, at a more informal and practical level, in terms of teamwork behaviors (Rousseau, et al, 2006a & 2006b). Attitudinal and behavioral commitments, both, create a sense of responsibility for the performance of the organization.

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