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Public Policy and Administration


Patricia Ripoll


Several studies suggest that nonprofit organizations that compete with for-profit organizations to deliver public services struggle to obtain mission clarity and face resistance by staff and volunteers when implementing traditional for-profit business planning procedures. The purpose of this study was to extend the Austrian theory of entrepreneurism and Bourdieu's social practice theory to identify particular procedural functions during the strategic planning process that played a role in the struggle of nonprofit organizations to obtain mission clarity. This study focused on nonprofit organizations that delivered residential services to disabled individuals in the state of Indiana. Data collected included 15 face-to-face interviews with the executive leadership from the study's participating nonprofit organizations; qualitative survey results from 17 staff members who were asked open-ended questions about their experiences with the strategic planning process; and publicly available documents related to the strategic planning process, including internal documents, and standard business documents. All data were inductively coded and then subjected to a constant comparative method of analysis to identify key themes and concepts. A key finding identified that communication during the strategic planning process and the clarity of the role played by staff in that process had a direct effect on both mission clarity and staff resistance during the strategic planning exercise. The positive social change implications of this study include recommendations for non-profit organizations for the improvement of strategic planning processes, which may, in turn, lead to an increase in options for care and service delivery available for people receiving public service that results in a better quality of life.