Governing Without Government: Nonprofit Governance in Detroit and Flint
56 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2018
Date Written: October 26, 2018
Scholars across the social sciences have shown how economic, social, and political changes are weakening local governments and contributing to rising nonprofit activity in urban politics. But these trends, largely studied in isolation, could now add up to a new form of decision-making in some American cities. The convergence of public sector austerity and a burgeoning philanthropic and nonprofit sector have created space for what we call “nonprofit governance.” In some cities, nonprofit leaders can work as insiders to guide urban policy, often with limited input from elected officials or citizens. First, we assess trends in public sector capacity, based on local government employment in Midwestern U.S. cities. Next, we apply insights from studies in comparative politics to demonstrate how nonprofit leadership and governing can expand, particularly in the context of a weak state. We closely examine Detroit and Flint due to dramatic declines in local government capacity in both cities, focusing on the role of nonprofits in each. These leading-edge cases allow us to trace the development of nonprofit governance and explore different forms of nonprofit and local government relationships.
Keywords: nonprofit governance, public-nonprofit partnerships, philanthropy, nonprofit capacity, austerity
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