The Experience of Founder’s Syndrome in Nonprofit Organizations Founded by Women

Gaps exist in the literature on knowledge of how founder behavior affects volunteers and employees in nonprofit organizations. Through exploration of founder relationships with volunteers and employees, this study fills some of those gaps and adds to the body of knowledge of how those relationships are perceived by founders, volunteers, and employees. The purpose of this narrative study was to address the question of the impact of founder behavior on founders, employees and volunteers in nonprofit women’s organizations founded by African American and Caucasian women. The theory of psychological ownership was used as the framework to understand founder behavior. The qualitative narrative inquiry design consisted of interviews with 12 participants who work for nonprofit organizations that provide empowerment services to women. Themes such as control, lack of strategy and support, and silenced voices emerged as responses to the question of the impact of founder behavior on the organization. The results indicate that founders, employees, and volunteers report a need for clear policies, role assignments, procedures, and organizational goals. Founders are oblivious to the impact of their behavior on the organization and are not aware of the available resources that may exist in their communities. Implications include state level nonprofit policy that funds training for nonprofit organizations around the themes examined in this study. Recommendations for future research include examination of internal issues and structures related to an organization’s growth. The result of this study may lead to increased understanding of perceptions of the operations of nonprofit organizations which may impact nonprofit organizations’ abilities to meet the goals of their mission.

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