Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



In this dissertation, through the lens of the civic community perspective, I examine the role of nonprofit organizations in enhancing community wellbeing. The primary contribution of this dissertation to existing literature on civic communities is the theoretical development of the concept of civically engaging institutions. I take a multifaceted approach to the understanding and investigation of civically engaged institutions, in which I expand the concept beyond civic congregations and associations, to include all organizations categorized as nonprofit. Synthesizing literatures on nonprofit organizations and civic communities, I argue that nonprofits can be considered locally oriented and civically engaged as they are economically embedded in locales and dependent on local populations as sources of volunteers and labor and as consumers for services; they often are exclusively local and/or tailor their services to local populations; they often are oriented towards the public good; and they are often sites and sources of association and civic activities. This dissertation also contributes to civic community scholarship through the investigation of nonprofits as civic institutions; I examine how the size of local nonprofit sectors is related to community wellbeing. Also, believing that different types of nonprofits offer potentially unique benefits to locales, I examine how local wellbeing is related to the composition of local nonprofit sectors in terms of organizational diversity organizational evenness, and organizational concentration. I examine these relationships using three analytic models, which explore three components of wellbeing on which past research has found civic institutions to have a positive effect – these are local economic wellbeing, safety, and health. Though findings both support and negate my hypothesized relationships, results demonstrate that nonprofit sector structure is a significant determinant of local quality of life.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Blanchard, Troy



Included in

Sociology Commons