Article | Organization Science | January–February 2013

Golfing Alone? Corporations, Elites and Nonprofit Growth in 100 American Communities

by Christopher Marquis, Gerald F. Davis and Mary Ann Glynn


We examine the link between corporations and community by showing how corporate density interacts with the local social and cultural infrastructure to affect the growth and decline of the number of local nonprofits between 1987 and 2002. We focus on two sub-populations of nonprofits in 100 American cities: elite-oriented cultural and educational institutions and social welfare-oriented organizations. We find that corporate density enhances the growth of both types of nonprofits, as does location in the Northeast U.S. and being a long-established business community, but corporate density is especially potent for the growth of elite-oriented nonprofits—but not social welfare nonprofits—when local networks and cultural norms support elite mobilization. We conclude that despite globalizing trends, the local geographic community continues to be an important unit of analysis for unpacking multi-sector organizational processes among corporations and nonprofits.

Keywords: Business and Community Relations; Civil Society or Community; Business Model; For-Profit Firms; Business Growth and Maturation; Profit; Local Range; Welfare or Wellbeing; Business Processes; Corporate Entrepreneurship; Trends; Management Practices and Processes; United States;


Marquis, Christopher, Gerald F. Davis, and Mary Ann Glynn. "Golfing Alone? Corporations, Elites and Nonprofit Growth in 100 American Communities." Organization Science 24, no. 1 (January–February 2013): 39–57. (Read a summary of the article in Stanford Social Innovation Review.)