Changing language of nonprofits

By Louise Lee, reporter, Stanford University Graduate School of Business

Terms like “data” and “framework” are commonly used by science and health organizations. Nonprofits tackling civil and social justice issues refer to “empowerment,” while more business-oriented nonprofits often use the terms “performance” and “impact.”

But new research by Stanford GSB professor Walter W. Powell shows that there is a fourth group that incorporates and recombines the languages of civil society, science, and management, creating a new discourse combining the language and thus the ideas of various kinds of entities.

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