Mate or menace? Exploring organizational identity threats in nonprofit-business partnerships

India Kandel*, Alina McCandless Baluch, Erk P. Piening

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Nonprofit organizations frequently engage in partnerships with profit-oriented businesses to fulfill their goals and social mission. Although nonprofit-business partnerships can benefit both parties, they are a potential source of intra-organizational controversy and conflict, especially when social objectives clash with business interests. An increasingly recognized risk of nonprofit-business partnerships lies in organizational identity threats. Adopting a sensemaking perspective, we investigate how nonprofit members make sense of nonprofit-business partnerships and how these appraisal processes influence whether they perceive these inter-organizational partnerships as organizational identity threats. Our qualitative study draws on semi-structured interviews and shows that nonprofit members’ evaluations of partnership congruence (i.e., the perceived fit of a partnership with members’ organizational identity expectations) and partnership relevance (i.e., the perceived meaning of a partnership for an organization’s identity) influence whether they perceive partnerships as organizational identity threats. In doing so, we extend research on organizational identity threats (and opportunities) of nonprofit-business partnerships.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages25
JournalNonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly
Early online date20 Nov 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Nov 2023


  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Nonprofit-business partnerships
  • Cross-sector partnerships
  • Organizational identity threats
  • Sensemaking


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