Monthly Archives: July 2016

Conference Photos Are Online!

Photos from the ISTR Conference in Stockholm are available online.  Click here to see some of the photos we took and links to albums captured by the professional photographer.

We would also like participants to share photos with us – please email ISTR_Secretariat@jhu.edu to share your photos.

City Hall

 

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Launch of the ISTR’s International Comparative Project on Institutional Philanthropy

At the ISTR Conference in Stockholm, a capacity-filled roundtable engaged a dialogue between researchers and a panel of foundation leaders about the state of knowledge about institutional philanthropy at the occasion of the ISTR’s launch of its Institutional Comparative project on Institutional Philanthropy. Session moderator Bernard Enjolras from the Institute for Social Research in Oslo and coordinator of the ISTR’s International Comparative project on Institutional Philanthropy provides a description below.

Though knowledge about the world of institutional philanthropy, especially the world of foundations, is relatively available in the U.S. and to some extent in Europe, we lack knowledge about the importance of institutional philanthropy in many parts of the world. Additionally, even where knowledge about institutional philanthropy is available, this field has received much less scholarly attention than the public and business sectors and their organizational forms. The task of comparing institutional philanthropy in a cross-national perspective is largely unachieved and impeded by two persistent obstacles: the imbalance concerning the availability of empirical data between countries and world-regions, and the diversity of institutional forms and cultural understandings and practices characterizing institutional philanthropy in different national settings.

Insofar as much of scholarly research on institutional philanthropy has been informed and influenced by the American understanding of the grant-making foundation, a comparative perspective needs to develop a concept which, from the outset, does not limit the investigation to a subset of institutions and practices bounded to a cultural and national setting, but, on the contrary, encompasses the very diversity characterizing its research object. ISTR’s International Comparative Project on Institutional Philanthropy aims at improving our knowledge of institutional philanthropy worldwide (differentiated from individual giving and other third sector manifestations), understood as the use of private resources oriented toward the public good within an institutional setting.

ISTR International Comparative Roundtable

Because philanthropic institutions have limited resources relative to the issues they address and the causes they pursue, they increasingly seek to maximize their impact by fostering policy innovation and social innovation. Correlatively, for philanthropic institutions, having access to accurate and up-to-date information about philanthropic activity in different countries and fields is critical for enabling them to actualize their innovative potential and to maximize their impact. In spite of the strategic importance of reliable and relevant knowledge on philanthropic institutions’ activities and capacity to innovate, results from systematic cross-country comparisons studies are few.

Hence, the ISTR’s International Comparative Project on Institutional Philanthropy aims at improving the state of knowledge about philanthropic institutions’ innovative capacity globally and in a comparative perspective. More precisely, the project will consist in (i) clarifying the concept of “institutional philanthropy” in its diverse manifestations, (ii) mapping of the world of institutional philanthropy worldwide, and (iii) an inquiry into the ways by which institutional philanthropy  innovate worldwide, and (iv) building research capacity and facilitate cooperation among researchers and research institutions.

  • Clarifying the concept of “institutional philanthropy”

One a most challenging issue when it comes to comparative research is the definitional one. Indeed the definition of foundation and the requirements in foundation law vary from country to country. Given the definitional complexity inherent to comparative research, as well as the tendency shown by comparative research to focus mainly on grant-making foundations both for reasons of simplicity and because of the influence of the American tradition, the project emphasizes the need of conceptual clarification under the conceptual umbrella of “institutional philanthropy”.  A central objective of this project is therefore to find common ground around a consensus “working definition” of the institutional philanthropic sector that can be applied cross-nationally.

  • Mapping of the world of institutional philanthropy worldwide

Philanthropic institutions and especially foundations are in many ways the backbone of civil society; they play a critical role in canalizing private funds to value-oriented projects emanating from civil society initiatives. In spite of national studies and partial comparisons across countries there exists no systematic international comparative knowledge about the size, composition, structural features, and developmental trends of the institutionalized philanthropic sector on a global basis. Consequently, a main uncompleted task for the project will consist in mapping and measuring the world of institutional philanthropy in its different manifestations and to contribute to the standardization of data collection at the global level. Such an effort will allow examining cross-national and regional variations in the size, composition, assets, financing, and staffing of the philanthropic sector.

  • Identifying the innovative capacities of institutional philanthropy worldwide 

As many philanthropic institutions and foundations seek to maximize their ability to bring about positive social change, they find themselves emphasizing their capacity to support new ideas, new needs and new solutions, and to influence public opinion and public policy. The project will consequently proceed to a mapping of philanthropic institutions’ innovative initiatives worldwide and address the central issues related to their innovative capacity: How do philanthropic institutions’ innovate? Which types of innovation do they initiate in the fields of education, higher-education and research, health, social welfare, arts and culture, religion, and international philanthropy? By which channels do they innovate, through single issue projects, cooperation with governments – policy development, with other foundations – pilot projects, with the business community or jointly, in collaboration with business, government and other philanthropic actors?

  • Building research capacity and facilitate cooperation among researchers and research institutions

In order to meet the needs of building research capacity within the field of institutional philanthropy, plans to establish a “young professional” fellowship program, offering internships to academics with foundations worldwide, as well as a PhD program associated to the overall project allowing selected research topics to be analyzed by PhD candidates in the academic institutions associated to the project.

Bernard

Bernard Enjolras is Research Professor with the Institute for Social Research in Oslo and coordinator of the ISTR’s International Comparative project on Institutional Philanthropy.

Finding a Place for Critical Perspectives in Nonprofit Management Education

Finding a Place for Critical Perspectives in Nonprofit Management Education was the topic of a roundtable discussion at the June 29-July 12016 ISTR conference in Stockholm, Sweden.  Session moderator Angela M. Eikenberry, University of Nebraska at Omaha, provides an overview below.

Einkenberry roundtable

Photo Credit: Marty Sulek

In a time of perceived austerity across many countries in the world, with growing economic and social inequalities and ethno-nationalisms, perhaps more than ever, students of nonprofit and civil society organization management need tools and methods that enable them to critically think about how to not only cope, but also challenge and change, the environments in which they work.

An international panel of scholars at an ISTR conference session argued that integrating the work of critical theorists and using critical-theory informed approaches in the classroom is needed to this end.

While critical theory is a multidimensional term that continues to take on different connotations and uses, an underpinning any critical perspective is an attempt to dig beneath the surface of (often hidden) historically-specific social structures to illuminate how they lead to oppression and then to also reveal ways to change these structures. Another key aspect of a critical perspective is that it is based on a belief that knowledge is not simply a reflection of a world “out there,” but is an active social construction based on certain ideologies and assumptions that are not strictly value free and that can be changed. At its essence, critical theory necessarily requires critical thinking.

Integrating a critical perspective into nonprofit and voluntary organization management education means, for example, that instructors help students understand that situations are not inevitable, but social constructions that can be changed by being aware of (management or other) ideologies and issues of power, control, and inequalities. This differs from mainstream approaches to nonprofit management education, which often assume the inevitability of management environments, ignore ideologies and oppressions, and encompass a predominantly instrumental, one-size-fits-all approach to understanding management issues.

The panelists provided several examples of ways they’ve integrated critical perspectives into their classrooms. Florentine Maier, from Vienna University of Economics and Business, described a method she uses to help students start thinking in different ways by making courses research-based, and assigning students to read and critically assess scientific articles from leading journals in the field. She asks students to answer questions in relation to these articles such as:  What did you find interesting?  What do you criticize about this article? Is there anything you had difficulty understanding?

Billie Sandberg, from Portland State University, discussed how she integrated critical perspectives on social entrepreneurialism into a course on social entrepreneurship, having students read materials that broaden an understanding of social entrepreneurship and asking students to address questions like: How do we bring in more democratic values into social entrepreneurship?

Roseanne Mirabella, from Seton Hall University, provided an example of using Derrida’s idea of “the gift” in her religion and philanthropy class as a way to discuss power dynamics between givers and receivers as well as to discuss the importance of thinking about and doing philanthropy from a less instrumental, “effectiveness” point of view.

Charlotte Holgersson, from KTH Royal Institute of Technology, and Johan Hvenmark, from Ersta Skondal University College, described their experience integrating a critical and gender perspective into organization courses in a business school—they ended up facing a lot of pushback from students and administration—but at a social work school, they found the students welcomed and asked for more of this perspective. The lesson here is that different contexts require different strategies for introducing critical approaches.

Attendees of the roundtable provided several thoughtful comments and suggestions for other ways to integrate critical theory into courses. These were too numerous and far-ranging to summarize here; however, some conclusions were that critical perspectives can ultimately help students to be better leaders and mangers by helping them to be aware—of their own biases and assumptions, of the social construction of systems that can oppress or liberate, and of the power they have in various situations to change these systems.

This roundtable session is connected to a project in progress to create a companion textbook on critical perspectives on nonprofit and voluntary organizations and their management, to be published in 2018.

angela-eikenberry-profile-image

 

 

 

Angela M. Eikenberry, University of Nebraska at Omaha