An exploration of stewardship theory in a Not-for-Profit organisation

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Kluvers, Ron and Tippett, John (2011) An exploration of stewardship theory in a Not-for-Profit organisation. Accounting Forum, 35 (4). pp. 275-284. ISSN 0155-9982


The aim of this study is to understand the ability of stewardship theory, as compared with agency theory, to explain motivation of the staff in a Not-for-Profit (NFP) organisation. Agency theory is seen as providing an explanation of motivation in the business sector however we argue that the different cultural and organisational conditions weaken the explanatory power of agency theory in the NFP sector. In pursuing this investigation, we were mindful of Brinberg's (2009) encouragement for a more outward-looking approach to management accounting issues and in particular his call for the use qualitative research methods and to allow practice to inform theory. Interviews were conducted with staff of a NFP organisation to gauge the impact of the introduction of a bonus scheme. The interviews sought to provide answers to three questions: what is the main source of motivation in the organisation? Were tensions created in the organisation by the introduction of the bonus scheme? Was there a change in the culture of the organisation, comprising camaraderie between staff, having fun at work, trust between management and staff, and an attitude of service to clients? Practical implications This finding has important implications for the management of NFPs. To maintain and improve motivation, management needs to look to the goals, or mission, of the organisation – in particular, to see that the goals include care of and service to clients. Originality/value The originality and value of this paper stems from the fact that the data was gather in a NFP organisation that had introduced an extrinsic reward scheme.

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Item type Article
DOI 10.1016/j.accfor.2011.04.002
Official URL
Subjects Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Economics and Finance
Historical > FOR Classification > 1503 Business and Management
Historical > SEO Classification > 970115 Expanding Knowledge in Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services
Keywords ResPubID24121, intrinsic rewards, extrinsic rewards, motivation, Not-for-Profit organisations
Citations in Scopus 31 - View on Scopus
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