Chapter

Nonprofit Research Institutes: From Companies Without Products to Universities Without Students

James A. Evans

in Politics and Partnerships

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780226109961
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226109985 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226109985.003.0006
Nonprofit Research Institutes: From Companies Without Products to Universities Without Students

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This chapter traces the twentieth-century history of nonprofit research institutes (NRIs) and documents their shift from developing technology in the 1940s to performing basic science at the turn of the twenty-first century—from appearing like “companies without products” to “universities without students.” The founding purpose of NRIs was to enrich the market, and yet they retreated from it. In asking why, the chapter shows that nonprofits' increasing financial independence fueled this shift, and argues that complex interactions with their environment directed it. Nonprofits selected their new activity and environs, in part by following public and nonprofit universities just as their scientifically trained personnel emulated academic peers. And their mission and activities themselves engaged with the environment and reinforced this shift. By responding to the precise feedback received from research and the limited feedback from development activities, nonprofits drifted closer to universities, and further from the market and the problems they were founded to solve.

Keywords: nonprofit research institutes; financial independence; market; nonprofits; academic peers; universities

Chapter.  10838 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative and Historical Sociology

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