School of Policy, Planning and Development

University of Southern California

PPD 687: Strategic Management in the Nonprofit Sector

Monday: 2:00 PM to 5:30 PM

Professor: Robert C. Myrtle, D.P.A.

Office Phone: (213) 740-0378FAX (562) 439-2250

Home Phone: (562) 438-4359E-MAIL:

Office Hours: Tuesday 12:00 to 2:00 and by appointment

Course Description: Strategic management of nonprofit organizations, social entrepreneurship, and management practices

Introduction: This course will focus on strategic and entrepreneurial approaches of nonprofit organizations. Emphasis will be place on the tools, methods and approaches of social entrepreneurs and managers. Case studies, self assessment instruments and application exercises will be used to examine, assess, evaluate and apply strategic planning, management and entrepreneurial concepts.

Learning Objectives:

  • Assess the role and function of social entrepreneurship in the effective management of nonprofit organizations
  • Apply strategic management approaches in improving the performance of nonprofit organizations
  • Evaluate and assess the effectiveness of nonprofit organizations in achieving their mission, purpose and goals
  • Expand your competencies in leading, managing, controlling and changing nonprofit organizations

Course Requirements

1.Satisfactory performance in this class requires that you:

read all materials assigned for each class session prior to the class meeting days listed on the syllabus;

effectively participate in the seminar discussions and class activities;

analyze all assigned problems and case studies with sufficient preparation to engage in critical thought and discussion;

make oral and written presentations of cases and problems.

2.Two copies of all written work are required (please note, I prefer electronic submissions, and for those only one copy is required).

3.Do not put your name on your work but use your student identification number instead.

Case Analysis

A number of cases and problem situations have been assigned as part of the formal course requirements. Most of these will be completed as part of the seminar activity. The remainder will be completed outside of the classroom and turned in for grading. In either event, you should keep in mind that you must be prepared to discuss each assigned case at the time scheduled in the syllabus. The best case discussions are mindful of the following—you have:

  • taken a position that is decisive and specific,
  • “done the math”. Many cases provide an opportunity to manipulate real data. You should recognize when this is appropriate and will attempt to solve the problem. Obtaining the right answer numerically is not nearly as important as recognizing when and where to do calculations, comparisons and to make inferences,
  • when appropriate, discussed the downside of a proposed strategy, if there are negative repercussions. Be especially mindful of the costs involved in any new program or actions you recommend. The critical thing is that the benefits outweigh the costs

Many of you will not have had much experience analyzing management cases. Effective case analysis requires a thorough understanding the organization, its goals, objectives and operating characteristics, as well as the strategic and environmental contexts it functions in. This will require you to carefully read the case, then re-reading it again, and sometimes reading it a third time. Solving a case is much like solving any problem. Issues are defined; information is gathered; alternatives are generated, and evaluated; and a course of action is recommended or actually implemented.

For the past two years I have been experimenting with having the written case analysis be submitted as a PowerPoint presentation. There are any number of presentation formats so feel free to modify any of the presentation formats that have been used in class. Please indicate the person or persons the presentation has been prepared for and your role in the process. For instance, some cases place the executive director as the person struggling with an issue and the assignment is to make a recommendation to the board as to the course of action to be taken. Thus, in your transmittal document to me you would say that this is a presentation that will be made to the board by the executive director.

Case analysis is an art with many different ways of studying a problem and identifying an appropriate course of action. The important thing to keep in mind is that you are trying to get a decision-maker to act; hence the presentation must provide sufficient information for them to do so. As such it must: 1) be readable; 2) be logical; 3) be sensitive to the environmental, political and operational contexts facing the decision maker and his or her organization; 4)clearly define the problem or problems; 5) offer several different alternative courses of action; 6) analyze, evaluate and recommend the most promising of these for implementation; and 7) describe how the implementation process could be carried out.

Criteria for grading

  1. Clarity of Writing: Your analysis is addressed to a professional manager. This means that you must write clearly, provide an executive summary, address the key issues, present a logical argument and provide citations for the source of your information.
  1. Rigor of the Analysis: Your analysis is designed to be presented to a senior manager/executive. Your analyses must be factual, believable, and credible. Your recommendations and conclusions must come from your analysis and should consider organizational realities (culture, politics, resources, reward systems) that may affect the implementability of your recommendations.
  1. Relevance: Your analysis must address the key issues confronting the organization and reflect a thorough understanding of the materials covered in this course.

Reflective Learning Assignment

One of the emerging themes in today’s organizations is that of continuous learning. Management strategists have suggested that the ultimate competitive advantage will be determined by the extent to which the organization is able to learn faster than its competition. Indeed, a recent Harvard Business Review article, “Planning as Learning”[1] skillfully brought home this point. The same can be said for managers, especially those just entering the managerial field.

The reflective learning assignment is based on Kolb’s model of adult learning. After each class session, reflect on the readings, exercises or cases, class discussions and record your thoughts and ideas in an electronic journal. Kolb offers the following as one model[2] but feel free to develop a format that works for you!:

  1. Date and Topic:
  1. Summarize the major ideas, concepts, or issues that intrigued you; that made you realize you lacked certain knowledge or skills; or that was very significant for you.
  1. Describe how the above influenced how you felt about what you read, heard, discussed or experienced.
  1. Reflect on your feelings and how these affected how you experienced or interpreted that information
  1. Note whether these experiences and reflections influenced your assessment of the concepts from the readings, lecture or discussions and in the way it changed.
  1. List how you might use these insights to improve your effectiveness in addressing similar issues or situations.

Term Project

The preparation of a term project is the final requirement of the course. This term project can take several forms. One is the development of an original case study and teaching note describing a strategic management problem or situation that an organization and its managers and policy makers are facing, and the issues and concerns that seem to be important. The case should accurately capture all the relevant issues at hand. Data, exhibits, financial statements and other factual material should be included. The goal is to provide the reader with sufficient information to be able view the problem from the context of those involved in the situation being described. As such the case must accurately capture all of the relevant issues at hand. Properly done, the final product should be similar to the cases analyzed as part of this class.

The teaching note should be a separate section and it should provide background information about the case, the issues that needed to be addressed, and suggestions for addressing the problems raised in the case, or a summary of how those involved addressed the issues noted in the case.

A second option would be to conduct a strategic analysis of an actual nonprofit organization. For this assignment, assume that you have been asked to perform a comprehensive analysis of this organization. This analysis should make extensive use of publicly available information and should include an industry assessment, identification and analysis of key competitors, critical assessment of the organization’s strengths and weaknesses and the identification of possible changes in strategy, organization or operation. The completed analysis should be accompanied by a cover letter addressed to your client summarizing the issues and your findings.

Other possibilities are open to discussion.

Criteria for grading

  1. Clarity of Writing: Your analysis is addressed to a professional manager. This means that you must write clearly, provide an executive summary, address the key issues, present a logical argument and provide citations for the source of your information.
  1. Rigor of the Analysis: Your analysis is designed to be presented to a senior manager/executive. Your analyses must be factual, believable, and credible. Your recommendations and conclusions must come from your analysis and should consider organizational realities (culture, politics, resources, reward systems) that may affect the implementability of your recommendations.
  1. Relevance: Your analysis must address the key issues confronting the organization and reflect a thorough understanding of the materials covered in this course.

Statement on Academic Integrity

The University Student Conduct Code establishes the expectations that individual work will be submitted, unless otherwise allowed by the instructor and that general principles of academic honesty, including the respect for the intellectual property rights of others will be followed. This means that the ideas and wordings of another writer must be acknowledged and appropriately used.

Plagiarism is the unacknowledged and inappropriate use of the works of others. As described in SCampus, it includes:

  • “The submission of material authored by another person but represented as the student’s own work, whether the material is paraphrased or copied in verbatim or near verbatim form;”
  • “The submission of material subjected to editorial revision by another person that results in substantive changes in content or major alteration of writing style:” and
  • “Improper acknowledgement of sources in essays or papers.”[3]

Statement on Students With Disabilities

Any student requesting academic accommodations based on a disability is required to register with Disability Services and Programs (DSP) each semester. A letter of verification for approved accommodations can be obtained from DSP. Please be sure the letter is delivered to me as early in the semester as possible. DSP is located in STU 301 and is open early 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. The phone number for DSP is (213) 740-0776.

Statement on Professionalism

Learning occurs in an environment where all the participants are eager and ready to learn. Therefore, I expect that everyone will engage in professional behaviors that contribute to the creation of a stimulating learning environment: attendance at every class (or notifying the instructor and team members in advance when you will not be in class), being to class on time, remaining in class for the duration of the class, being prepared for class, listening respectfully when others are speaking, being focused on the activities at hand, and turning your mobile phones and pagers off.

Basis for Grades

Effectiveness of class participation / 10%
Case analyses (2 formal write-ups required) / 40%
Reflective Learning Assessment / 20%
Final project / 30%
Total / 100%

Required Materials

1. Course Reader:

This year I am experimenting with using a course reader instead of textbooks. I have found that my presentations tended to cover the materials in the texts which does not seem to be the best way to grow your knowledge in the field. I think I have located a very good collection of articles which will be interesting and valuable.

The reader will be available in the bookstore in two formats—hard copy and electronic. It will be expensive because most of the materials are from the Harvard Business Review or the Harvard Business Schools case collections. I have tried to find other sources for the materials but they happen to produce some of the best materials for managers and executives. I hope you will find them interesting and valuable.

3. Recommended Text

If you are interested in developing your professional library I would recommend the following books. I have not ordered these but you should be able to obtain them from Amazon and other online sources. You probably know this, but Amazon and similar vendors do not always have the latest edition. If “newness” matters, you might keep this in mind.

Allison, M., and Kaye, J., 2005. Strategic Planning for Nonprofit Organizations, 2nd ed. John-Wiley and Sons. This is a practical handbook with lots of templates to guide strategic planning.

Collins, J. 2005. Good to Great and the Social Sectors, New York: HarperCollins. This monograph is designed to complement his book Good to Great.

Dees, J. G., Emerson, J., and Economy, P. 2001. Enterprising Nonprofits: A Toolkit for Social Entrepreneurs. New York: John Wiley and Sons. This is a very practical and readable text. It was required in my previous classes.

Hogan, C. 2008. Prospect Research 2nd. Ed. Boston: Jones and Bartlett Publishers. This is an excellent book on fundraising.

La Piana, D., and Hayes, M. 2005, Play to Win. John Wiley and Sons. This is another practical book on strategic planning processes in the nonprofit sector. It was a required text in my previous classes.

Letts, C.W., Ryan, W.P., and Grossman, A. 1999, High Performance Nonproft Organizations. New York: John Wiley and Sons. This complements the Collins book but focuses more directly on nonprofit organizations.

Smith, Bucklin, and Associates, Inc. 2000. The Complete Guide to Nonprofit Management. New York: John Wiley and Sons. This is another practical book on nonprofit management. It was also required in previous classes.

August 28, 2008 / Introduction to the Course
Darling, M., Perry, C., and Moore, J, “Learning in the Thick of it”, Harvard Business Review, July-August 2005.
Daudelin, MW, “Learning from Experience Through Reflection”, Organizational Dynamics 24(3): 36-48.
Fielden, J., “What do You Mean I Can’t Write?”, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 42, No. 3 (May-September 1964): 144-152.
Exercise: Learning Style Inventory
The Language System Diagnostic Instrument
September 8, 2008 / Social Entrepreneurship
Bhide, A., “The Questions Every Entrepreneur Must Answer”, Harvard Business Review, November-December, 1996.
Thompson, J., Alvy, G., and Lees, A, “Social Entrepreneurship—A New Look at the People and the Potential, Management Decision, 38 (5), 2000: 328-338.
Thompson, JL, “The World of the Social Entrepreneur”, The International Journal of Public Sector Management, 15(5), 2002: 412-431.
Exercise: Entrepreneurship Inventory
Case: Rick Surpin (A)
September 15, 2008 / Environmental Analysis
Day, G.S., Schoemaker, P.J.H., “Scanning the Periphery”, Harvard Business Review, November 2005.
Huffman, B.J., “Why Environmental Scanning Works Except When You Need It”, Business Horizons, 47 (3) 2004: 39-48,
Pashiardis, Petros, “Environmental Scanning in Educational Organizations: Uses, Approaches, Sources, and Methodologies”, International Journal of Education Management, 10 (3) 1996: 5-9.
Watkins, M.D., Bazerman, M.H., “Predictable Surprises: The Disasters You Should Have Seen Coming”, Harvard Business Review, March, 2003.
Assignment: Complete the “Assess Your Need for Peripheral Vision” for your organization or an organization that you have good information for prior to class. The instrument is in the Day and Schoemaker article.
Case: Planned Parenthood (A)
September 22, 2008 / Competitor Analysis
Barrows, Jr., Frigo, M.L., “Using the Strategy Map for Competitor Analysis”, Balanced Scorecard Report, Harvard Business School, July 15, 2008.
D’Aveni, R. A., “Mapping Your Competitive Position”, Harvard Business Review, November 2007.
Case: Social Partners Replication (On Blackboard)
September 29, 2008 / Customer Analysis
Meyer, C., and Schwager, A., “Understanding Customer Experience”, Harvard Business Review, February 2007.
Shapiro, B.P., Rangan, V.K., and Sviolka, J.J. “Staple Yourself to an Order”, Harvard Business Review, July-August, 2004.
Assignment: Identify a nonprofit organization you know or admire and 1) identify its customers, and 2 develop a list of “questions you would want to know about those customers”.
Case: Seattle Day Care Nursery: Filling the Needs of Children at Risk (On Blackboard).
October 6, 2008 / Organizational Analysis
Harrison & St. John, Chapter 3
Frei, F.X. “The Four Things a Service Business Must Get Right”, Harvard Business Review, April 2008.
Gottfredson, M., Schaubert, S., and Saenz, H., “The New Leader’s Guide to Diagnosing the Business”, Harvard Business Review, February 2008.
Leidecker, J.K., and Bruno, A. V., “Identifying and Using Critical Success Factors”, Long Range Planning, 17 (1) 1984: 23-32.
Case: Triangle Community Foundation
October 13, 2008 / Mission of Nonprofit Organizations
Bart, C.K., “Sex, Lies, and Mission Statements”, Business Horizons, November-December, (1997): 9-18.
Rangan, V.K., “Lofty Missions, Down-to-Earth Plans”, Harvard Business Review, March 2005.
Exercise: New Venture Partnerships
October 20, 2008 / Corporate Level Strategies
Courtney, H., Kirkland, J., and Vigerie, “Patrick, Strategy Under Uncertainty”, Harvard Business Review, November-December 1997.
Dranikoff, L., Koller, T., and Schneider, A., “Divestiture: Strategy’s Missing Link”, Harvard Business Review, May 2002.
Montgomery, C.A., “Putting Leadership Back into Strategy”, Harvard Business Review, January 2008.
Porter, M.E., “What is Strategy” Harvard Business Review, Vol. 74. (November-December 1996): 61-78.
Case: Bay Area Video
October 27, 2008 / Business Level Strategies
Campbell, A., Goold, M., and Alexander, M., “Corporate Strategy: The Quest for Parenting Advantage:, Harvard Business Review, March-April 1995.
David J. Collis, D.J., and Montgomery, C.A, "Competing on Resources: Strategy in the 1990s", Harvard Business Review, Vol. 73, No. 3 (October-August 1995): 118-128.
Case: New Leaders for New Schools
November 3, 2008 / Strategic Alliances
Austin, J. “Managing the Collaboration Portfolio”, Stanford Social Innovations Review Summer 2003 1 (2).
Devlin, G., and Bleackley, M., “Strategic Alliances—Guidelines for Success”, Long Range Planning, 21 (5) 1988: 18-23.
Harding, D., Rovit, S. “Building Deals on Bedrock”, Harvard Business Review, September 2004.
Case: Green Dot Public Schools: To Collaborate or Compete.
November 10, 2008 / Transformational Leadership
Christensen, C., Marx, M., and Setvenson, H., “The Tools of Cooperation and Change”, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 84, No. 10 (October 2006).
Duck, J.D., "Managing Change: The Art of Balancing," Harvard Business Review, Vol. 71, No. 6 (November-December 1993): 109-118.
Kotter, J.P., "Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail", Harvard Business Review, Vol. 73, No. 2 (March-April, 1995): 59-67.
Case: Appalachian Mountain Club (On Blackboard).
November 17, 2008 / Strategic Controls
Kaplan, R.S. and Norton, D.P., “Using the Balanced Scorecard as a Strategic Management System”, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 74, No. 1 (January-February 1996): 75-85.
Simons, R., "Control in an Age of Empowerment", Harvard Business Review, Vol. 73, (March-April, 1995): 80-88.
Case: Boston Lyric Opera
November 24, 2008 / Public Relations
Chester Burger, “How to Meet the Press”, Harvard Business Review, (July-August 1975): 62-68.
Robert S. Kline, “Effective Public Relations—A Model For Business”, Management Research News, Vol. 19 (1996): 55—60
Case Express Maintenance (On Blackboard).
December 1, 2008 / Class Wrap-up

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