Chapter 2 Normative understandings of nonprofit governance: everyday discourses and research perspectives
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This chapter deals with the question of what understandings of ‘good’ (or ‘bad’) nonprofit governance can be found in practice and research. We begin this investigation with a look at how the concept of nonprofit governance has developed historically. Then we outline five normative understandings of nonprofit governance in practice: managerialist, professionalist, civic, grassroots and domestic. We then outline the main normative perspectives underlying research on nonprofit governance: utilitarian, deontological and discourse-ethical. The utilitarian perspective focuses on how individual organizations can best pursue their mission. The deontological perspective is concerned with securing the reputation of the sector as a whole. The discourse-ethical perspective aims to strengthen the societal role of nonprofit organizations as schools of democracy. We conclude with a plea for a pluralistic and holistic understanding of good governance.

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