Reference : Transparency of nonprofit organizations: An integrative framework and research agenda
Scientific congresses and symposiums : Unpublished conference/Abstract
Business & economic sciences : Social economics
Transparency of nonprofit organizations: An integrative framework and research agenda
Dethier, Fanny mailto [Université de Liège - ULiège > HEC Liège : UER > UER Management : Social Entrepreneurship >]
Delcourt, Cécile mailto [Université de Liège - ULiège > HEC Liège : UER > UER Management : Marketing >]
Willems, Jurgen [WU Vienna University of Economics and Business > > > >]
8th EMES International Research Conference on Social Enterprise
October 04 - October 08 2021
[en] Nonprofit ; Transparency ; Systematic literature review ; Integrative framework ; Research Agenda
[en] As research on transparency has evolved into a burgeoning multidisciplinary field (e.g. Cucciniello et al. 2017; Parris et al. 2016), nonprofit scholars have developed in the last twenty years an impressive body of research regarding the antecedents and outcomes of transparency of nonprofit organizations (NPOs). However, no study provides an overall and integrative picture of both the antecedents and consequences of NPOs’ transparency. Accordingly, by reporting on a systematic literature review, this article presents an integrative framework of NPOs’ transparency antecedents and outcomes and determines research gaps to offer an agenda for future research. The systematic literature review is based on the “Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses Statement—PRISMA” (Moher 2009).
In particular, this integrative and systematic review answers three research questions: (1) what are the key antecedents influencing NPOs’ adoption of transparency practices? (2) What are the expected outcomes for NPOs developing transparency practices? (3) What are main research questions that remained neglected? After applying search criteria to an initial pool of 1,081 articles and keeping only the relevant articles for our research questions, the review considers 74 articles.
From the careful analysis of these articles, we develop an integrative framework by connecting on the one side, environmental and organizational antecedents and on the other side, perceptual as well as tangible outcomes of NPOs’ transparency. A critical analysis of this integrative framework brings observations on four decisive drawbacks of current literature on NPOs’ transparency. Accordingly, we suggest a future agenda structured around the following four research orientations: NPOs’ transparency and (1) its limits, (2) its neglected, though important, directions, (3) its surrounding context, and (4) its perceptual outcomes. Each research orientation is briefly explained in the next paragraph.
First, we note that, while some scholars allude to the limitations of NPOs’ transparency in their study (e.g., Hyndman & McConville, 2018; Vaccaro & Madsen, 2009), the exploration of the optimal level of transparency within the nonprofit setting attracts in general rather little attention. Second, in terms of transparency directions, nonprofit literature mainly focuses on the study of transparency oriented toward NPOs’ resources providers (e.g., Deng et al. 2015), despite the varieties of stakeholders and their respective importance in NPOs’ governance. Third, except for few studies (Harris et al. 2018; Willems & Faulk 2019), the nonprofit literature rarely takes the context surrounding transparency practices into consideration. For example, a sector or organizational crisis situation requires very specific transparency actions. Fourth and finally, perceptual outcomes, such as NPOs’ image, reputation, legitimacy or even, trust, remain critically understudied, despite their centrality for the nonprofit sector and their potential link with transparency and stakeholders’ supportive behavior (Sargeant et al. 2006). Though, the separation of actual transparency practices from its perceived level would enable a better understanding of how heterogeneous stakeholders’ opinions matter in the evaluation of the nonprofit sector.
Overall, the consideration of those four research orientations should encourage scholars in bringing nuances in the knowledge of effective and ethical transparency as well as in achieving key findings regarding where and how transparency works.

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