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Exploring Instrumental and Expressive Dimensions

Title: Exploring Instrumental and Expressive Dimensions: Adapted Origin of Nonprofit and Voluntary Organizations.
Name(s): Lu, Wenjue, author
Brower, Ralph S., professor directing dissertation
Doan, Petra, outside committee member
deHaven-Smith, Lance, committee member
Guy, Mary E., committee member
School of Public Administration and Policy, degree granting department
Florida State University, degree granting institution
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2008
Publisher: Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: In a recent conception, Frumkin (2002) identified expressive and instrumental activities as distinct functions of nonprofit/voluntary organizations, employing them as one component of a two-dimensional classificatory scheme to frame the conceptual universe of nonprofit/voluntary sector activities. The first dimension in this model is "supply" versus "demand." The second dimension in this model is "expressive" versus "instrumental." (Frumkin, 2002, p. 22). At one end of this dimension is the notion that nonprofit/voluntary organizations serve an instrumental purpose in meeting needs that the community values. At the other end of this dimension is a justification for these organizations in that they provide an expressive outlet for participants' commitment to particular values and beliefs. Our study extends and elucidates the expressive-instrumental dimension. This study explores three research questions. (1) What are the expressive and instrumental dimensions in nonprofit and voluntary organizations, and what forms do these activities take in nonprofit and voluntary organizations? (2) What is the relationship between the expressive and instrumental dimensions? (3) How do nonprofit and voluntary organizations manage the expressive and instrumental dimensions in order to survive and grow? How are these two dimensions managed in successful practices? Qualitative grounded analysis is adopted. Data are collected through long interviews. The data reveal tension between the expressive energy and various instrumental features across levels of analysis among different actors. First is a tension between individuals' expression and individual self-interested needs. Individual expression is demonstrated by volunteering, lower financial compensation, and contribution to the community, which is in contrast with individuals' actions to satisfy self-interests that are rational, purposive, transactional and instrumental. A second tension is demonstrated between organizations' expressive institutional features, defined as localism, autonomy, and a growth dynamic, and the instrumental institutional features of the government funders, including public accountability and procedures. A third tension is between the inner need to thrive driven by organizational expression and external private resource suppliers' instrumental, self-interested, rational, and limited support. Fourth, we describe tension at an inter-organizational level and a macro environmental level. Organizations compete with each other for limited resources in order to avoid elimination. Organizations also cooperate to maximize capacity and consolidate resources and achieve shared expressive ends – serving the community and values and beliefs. Finally, the study illustrates exogenous forces from macro environmental factors including popular culture, government policy orientation, and changing demographics, which also impose instrumental force on organizations. These four tensions share a common theme -- that is, how organizations' expressive nature accommodates the instrumental features from various sources: individuals, government, private resources, the "market," and macro external factors. Upon this common theme, we induce the theory of adapted origin of nonprofit and voluntary organizations, which states that the life of nonprofit and voluntary organizations are determined by the level of adaptation of the expressive dimension to the instrumental dimension. The theory suggests that, in contrast to Mark Granovetter's notion of embeddedness, refering to economic actions as embedded in social relationships (1985), we discover "adaptiveness," which describes how expressive actions are adapted to instrumental relationships. Also associated with social origins theory, the adapted origin theory takes a micro organizational analysis approach, while the social origins theory takes a national level approach.
Identifier: FSU_migr_etd-1021 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Dissertation Submitted to the Reubin O’D Askew School of Public Administration and Policy in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Degree Awarded: Summer Semester, 2008.
Date of Defense: May 5, 2008.
Keywords: Chinese Ethnic Organizations, Expressive Dimension, Instrumental Dimension, Voluntary Organizations, Nonprofit Organizations, Adapted Origin Theory
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory committee: Ralph S. Brower, Professor Directing Dissertation; Petra Doan, Outside Committee Member; Lance deHaven-Smith, Committee Member; Mary E. Guy, Committee Member.
Subject(s): Public policy
Public administration
Persistent Link to This Record:
Owner Institution: FSU

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Lu, W. (2008). Exploring Instrumental and Expressive Dimensions: Adapted Origin of Nonprofit and Voluntary Organizations. Retrieved from