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Mission, Ideology, and Language in Civil Society Organizations of an Anarchistic Sector: An Impossible Challenge for Universities

Bengt Göransson, Jan Ström


Credit-based education in management and leadership is often seen as an important path to develop nonprofits and other civil society organizations in Sweden. Its relevance for the diversity of organizations and movements in civil society is however seldom critically addressed. Is academic knowledge apt to address the distinctive features of civil society organizations (CSOs)? What type of leadership education is most suitable for CSOs to operationalize their unique missions? Can passion be taught by outsiders? In an interview between two Swedish nonprofit leaders, it is suggested that a different approach than credit-based education is needed to develop the strategic leadership of CSOs. It is suggested that it might be dangerous to the very heart and soul of some CSOs if they uncritically embrace the increasing supply of credit-based education. One reason for this is that many credit-based courses are based on organizational logics from the public sector or from the business sector. Another reason is that civil society and its organizations are not a homogenous entity. It is therefore crucial to analyze and meet the needs of the various types of CSOs that exist.

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organizational mission; distinctiveness; noncredit-based education; nonprofit leadership

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