Deakin University

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Understanding social responsibility and relational pressures in nonprofit organisations

journal contribution
posted on 2023-08-25, 04:51 authored by Fara AzmatFara Azmat, Ruth Rentschler, Boram Lee, Yuka Fujimoto
Relational pressures across multiple levels push organisations to behave socially responsibly or sometimes irresponsibly. But how do relational pressures across multiple levels influence social responsibility of small nonprofit organisations working with marginalised groups? Nonprofit organisations are increasing in importance owing to their role in development and representation of marginalised groups’ interests, yet their social responsibility is little understood. Using the lens of standpoint theory, we explore social responsibility of small disability arts organisations in the nonprofit sector in Australia drawing on 53 interviews involving actors at multiple levels, supplemented by site visits and observations. We find small nonprofit organisations’ social responsibility in a state of flux, influenced by differing priorities, expectations, and demands from various actors across levels. We provide insights into organisational social responsibility dynamics, identifying three major tensions that small arts organisations face – formality versus informality, agency versus representation, and access versus excellence – in seeking to be socially responsible. Our findings have relevance for organisations in the wider nonprofit sector, underscoring the need to explore their social responsibility from a relational perspective. Further, the resultant tensions from relational pressures, as identified in our study, provide important implications for organisational social responsibility advancing theoretical and practical knowledge in this emerging field.



Human Relations




London, Eng.







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal


SAGE Publications