Friday, November 24, 2023

Silvia, Child & Witesman, A New Look at Hansmann’s Contract Failure Theory

Witesman Child SilviaChris Silvia, Curtis Child, and Eva Witesman (all BYU) have published The Value of Being Nonprofit: A New Look at Hansmann’s Contract Failure Theory, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly (subscription required). Here is the abstract:

In his theory about the role of nonprofit enterprise, Henry Hansmann suggested that nonprofit status provides important information to consumers in low-information environments. In this article, we assess whether consumers use nonprofit status to form purchasing preferences as Hansmann predicted. Using choice-based conjoint analysis, we find that under different types of low-information circumstances, study participants prefer goods and services provided by nonprofits to those offered by businesses. In the absence of additional information (such as customer ratings and third-party certifications), nonprofit status serves as an important value signal to consumers. In the presence of additional information, nonprofit status is still relevant in some cases, although it becomes less so. The findings suggest that additional forms of information do not necessarily displace the value to consumers of information about organization type. We reflect on these findings in light of Hansmann’s thesis.

Lloyd Mayer

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