The Promise and Perils of Comparing Nonprofit Data Across Borders

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. The movement to democratize data and the advent of virtual research teams provides a near-perfect opportunity for an explosion of comparative nonprofit research. This manuscript provides a useful framework for scholars interested in utilizing comparative nonprofit data. By documenting how the lived context of the data is influenced by governmental, institutional, and social forces, we illustrate how effective comparative data work will involve knowing both the how (data details) and the why (institutional history) of the data elements. We offer three extended examples to illustrate the complexity of comparative data: the definition of nonprofit, the concept of governance, and the definition of financial liability. This approach provides a thoughtful path of not only careful empirical work but also the route to theoretical improvements as well. Furthermore, comparative work also leads the researcher to question assumptions and document the processes which shape the data, even within their singular context.

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly |  

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