The study of organizations goes to the roots of social science. Abundant theory provides the basis for explanations of diverse aspects of organizational structure and process. As a subset of organizations, nonprofit organizations can be studied with many of the same theoretical approaches used for studying other organizations. Still, nonprofit organizations have some special characteristics, such as a multiplicity of stakeholders and the use of volunteers; some theories of organizations can therefore be expected to be especially useful for studying nonprofit organizations and some other theories not to be very useful. In general, our approach is to apply relevant organizational theory to nonprofit organizations. As such, this essay is not a typical review of literature about nonprofit organizations. Instead, the purpose is to equip the reader with conceptual and theoretical tools for understanding nonprofits as organizations
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