919-513-0436 | ajstewa5@ncsu.edu


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My Research

Executive Transition Management
In managing an executive transition, boards have options for how to manage a transition – seeking the support of an executive recruiter/search firm or an executive transition consultant, or managing the transition on their own. We have little empirical evidence about how each approach equips boards and contributes to organizational outcomes, and if there is any advantage, in terms of resource outlay and associated outcomes, between these options. To help fill this gap among nonprofit research and practice, a survey-based research study is being prepared to investigate the approaches and desired outcomes of nonprofit boards currently managing an executive transition event. This research is being implemented in collaboration with Tom Adams of Raffa PC, Dennis McMillian of The Foraker Group, and Tim Wolfred of Tim Wolfred Consulting. Click here for a preliminary report of this research

Nonprofit Executives Career Study
The experience, education, and background of nonprofit executives have evolved to match this changing context of nonprofit management and leadership. Yet, our current understanding of nonprofit executive careers is primarily conjecture as systematic or empirical study has been limited to-date. This study documented the career paths, inclusive of background, experience, and education, of 94 nonprofit executives. We are engaging this rich data for its descriptive power to document the pipeline of nonprofit leadership development, as well as to link career backgrounds to nonprofit organizational performance. In collaboration with Kerry Kuenzi of Georgia-Southern University.

Foundation Grantmaking: The most recent financial crisis may have been a strategic jolt to foundations as returns on foundation assets declined at the same time community need increased. Looking to increase their impact to offset greater community need, Philanthropic foundations may be implementing initiatives to help their grant resources go further and offset this growing community need. This research study investigated the strategies of foundations operating or making grants in one southeastern U.S. state, to understand adaptations or evolutions to their foundations strategies resulting from the 2008 financial crisis. A series of interviews were hosted with foundation executives during late summer and fall 2016.

Nonprofit Education Survey Project: The type and number of nonprofit management education programs continue to grow. However, it is unclear whether these programs provide students with necessary skills for organizational success and/or result in a nonprofit leadership position post-degree. This research study seeks to address the following questions using a survey method of recent nonprofit education alumni: Who is getting nonprofit management certificates and why; what is the value of a nonprofit management degree to an individual, organizations, and to a local nonprofit sector; and what is the return on investment for a nonprofit management degree? In collaboration with Kerry Kuenzi of Georgia-Southern University and Marlene Walk of Indiana University-Purdue University.

Nonprofit Carrying Capacity: Governments are transferring the implementation of social policies largely to nonprofits and other third parties, making it important to understand the capacity of these local sectors to shoulder this implementation responsibility. Using a local nonprofit sector in the southeastern United States, we apply economic and networked concepts of nonprofit carrying capacity, and propose measurements that can be implemented in future research to explain variation across and within local nonprofit sectors. This case study analysis employed mixed-methods, including a survey of all local nonprofits in this community to evaluate network conditions and secondary data on the nonprofit organizations and local economic factors. In collaboration with Kerry Kuenzi of Georgia-Southern University and Jessica Haynie, PhD student at North Carolina State University.

Skill Based Volunteering: Corporate social responsibility can be mutually beneficial, serving both the corporate partner and its nonprofit beneficiaries. A nonprofit partner that has an active and successful track record of engaging corporate partners is considering venturing into skill based volunteering. Yet, questions emerge about the ‘return on investment’ for both the nonprofit and its corporate partners, as well as the purpose and structure of such a program. An interview-based assessment process was implemented that engaged multiple stakeholder perspectives, including the nonprofit, its corporate partners, and other SBV partners. The outcome of this assessment informs a case study that explores how nonprofits approach innovations to their work with corporate partners. In collaboration with Richard Clerkin and Jason Coupet, both of North Carolina State University.

Dissertation Research Understanding Context, Moderators, and Implications of Executive Turnover in Nonprofit Organizations: This study focused on two related questions: (1) What contextual factors contribute to different turnover outcomes in nonprofit organizations and in what way?; and (2) How does turnover influence the financial performance of nonprofit organizations?

The research engaged a sample of 2,000 nonprofits and analyzed performance using financial data from the nonprofit’s IRS tax form 990s. Interviews and a survey were also hosted with executives working in nonprofits that had recently experienced turnover.

This study found that following a turnover event nonprofit organizations reduce expenses, about 4% on average among the organizations in the sample, but the turnover event does not contribute to nonprofit financial vulnerability. Instead the discussion viewed this reduction as a prudent management strategy, intended to proactively manage the nonprofit through the executive transition and into the tenure of the new executive. The discussion also raised moderators of turnover for nonprofits, and findings stressed the importance of an engaged board of directors, strategically-oriented transitions, staff and stakeholder management, and attention to the relay between the outgoing and incoming executives.

A summary of the dissertation can be found here, and the full dissertation can be found here (Warning: The full dissertation is 220 pages in length).