In Research


Year: 2010
Published in: Harvard Business School General Management Unit Working Paper
Cited as: Ebrahim, Alnoor S., and V. Kasturi Rangan. “The limits of nonprofit impact: A contingency framework for measuring social performance.” Harvard Business School General Management Unit Working Paper 10-099 (2010): 10-099.


Performance Measurement, Impact, Nonprofit Management, Social Enterprise, Philanthropy, Accountability, Management Control Systems


Leaders of organizations in the social sector are under growing pressure to demonstrate their impacts on pressing societal problems such as global poverty. We review the debates around performance and impact, drawing on three literatures: strategic philanthropy, nonprofit management, and international development. We then develop a contingency framework for measuring results, suggesting that some organizations should measure long-term impacts, while others should focus on shorter-term outputs and outcomes. In closing, we discuss the implications of our analysis for future research on performance management.


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