Professional and Organizational Diversity: The Importance of Understanding Differences Among Subfields in the Nonprofit Sector


  • Haley Murphy Oklahoma State University



sector diversity, nonprofitness, public sector, private sector


Much of the literature dealing with nonprofit organizations takes a generic look at the nonprofit sector that often leads to an incomplete understanding of the great diversity within the sector. In this pilot study, I use survey data to assess how nonprofit managers perceive their organization in relation to organizations in the nonprofit, private, and public sectors. Specifically, I explore how managers of nonprofit organizations in different subfields answer the questions, “How well do you believe individuals in the following organizations understand the challenges that your organization faces?” and “How much influence do the following individuals or organizations have over the way you manage your organization?” I found that the main differences in responses exist between organizations that are uniquely nonprofit (i.e., focused on community development and fundraising) and all other nonprofit organizations that have similar counterparts in the public or private sectors. I close the article by discussing the importance of these findings in relation to nonprofit education and leadership, as well as the benefits of conducting studies that include organizations in multiple subfields and across multiple sectors.

Author Biography

Haley Murphy, Oklahoma State University

Haley Murphy is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Oklahoma State University.  Her research focuses on collaboration between nonprofit organizations, religious organizations, and government agencies, particularly after disasters.





Empirical Research