We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Research & business

View Profile

Publication details for Dr Martyn Griffin

King,D. & Griffin, M. (2019). Nonprofits as schools for democracy: The justifications for organizational democracy within nonprofit organizations. Nonprofit Voluntary Quarterly 48(5): 910-930.

Author(s) from Durham


Nonprofit organizations are often claimed to be schools of democracy: “that produce citizens able and ready to participate in society” (as stated by Dodge and Ospina in Nonprofits as “schools of democracy”: A comparative case study of two environmental organizations, 2016, page 479). This claim is predicated the external role nonprofits play in producing democracy, particularly by engendering civic action. In contrast, this article promotes nonprofits’ internal organizing processes to produce democracy within nonprofits themselves. Drawing on the workplace democracy literature, we explore three main justifications for workplace democracy: consequentialist, deontological, and virtue ethics. Rather than viewing workplace democracy as an extrinsic good—based solely on consequences external to the organization—we argue that it should be considered an intrinsic good, valuable in and of itself. We, therefore, argue for a broadened imaginary for how nonprofits are managed, that include the internal organizational processes and widening of the social mission of nonprofit organization for greater democracy and freedom, based on good work.