This paper is a qualitative exploration of nonprofit organizations and the ways that nonprofit leaders perceive and approach change-making, using future imaginations as an object of analysis. I found that nonprofit leaders do not simply succumb to institutional pressures or field-level norms. Instead, they articulated futures of change in three registers: client and community change in which the organization is functioning optimally to transform the attributes and conditions of clients; reform at the social provision field level that yields more collaboration, transparency, and coordination; and structural transformation in which the root causes to the social issues they address are eradicated, making nonprofit social provision mechanisms irrelevant. Using inhabited institutionalism as a theoretical framework, I highlight people’s dynamic meaning-making processes, interactions, and organizational activities that shape their future imaginations. By creating space for envisioned futures that feature organizational obsolescence and structural social transformation, this exploratory study demonstrates the utility of future imaginations in generating complex organizational analysis.



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