Avoiding Bureaucratization and Mission Drift in Associations

  • Joyce Rothschild
  • Katherine K. Chen
  • David H. Smith
  • Omar Kristmundsson


This chapter reviews research that suggests, contrary to Weber’s and Michels’ predictions, bureaucracy and oligarchy are avoidable, as evidenced by the many nonprofit organizations today that manage to avoid both tendencies, especially local associations but also some national associations. Such associations gravitate toward highly democratic and egalitarian practices, including giving all members a say, rather than relying upon hierarchal decision-making. Members usually believe that participatory and egalitarian practices are more likely to foster desired outcomes and empower members. In spite of pressures for efficiency and stability, associations can retain their missions and participatorydemocratic processes by adhering to values, sharing knowledge relevant to the association’s tasks, supporting sustained dialog, engaging in storytelling, cultivating associational norms that encourage individual voice and mutual support, and building community ties.


Market Orientation Stakeholder Theory Relationship Marketing Resource Provider Market Theory 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joyce Rothschild
    • 1
  • Katherine K. Chen
    • 2
  • David H. Smith
    • 3
  • Omar Kristmundsson
    • 4
  1. 1.USA
  2. 2.USA
  3. 3.USA
  4. 4.Iceland

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