Birds of a Feather? Exploring Homophily in Nonprofit Leadership
Keywords:race, gender, nonprofit executive, homophily, nonprofit board
Volunteer boards and paid executives have complementary but distinct roles as one supports the other in a nonprofit’s shared leadership function. We introduce the concept of homophily to this relationship, connecting the profile of who fills these roles to how they relate. Homophily conceives those relationships are more likely to form between those who share commonalities, and in this exploratory study, we look at shared characteristics between board members and executives, namely their race and gender. This research illuminates how common or differing identities may affect a board and executive’s shared leadership responsibilities. This research uses descriptive and causal modeling to examine the extent to which nonprofit executives look to boards that are like themselves for support and if homophily or heterophily impacts how an executive perceives their board. The findings reveal a nuanced relationship, indicating homophily may influence these relations differently than previous literature has found.
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