Doctoral Fellows Research Featured in Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly Editor’s Choice

Vaughn Sayers
February 10, 2020
Alumni Stories, Programs & Research

Congratulations to former doctoral fellows Peter Schubert (2019), Dr. Diarmuid McDonnell (2016), and Dr. ChiaKo Hung (2017), for having made the Editor’s Choice Nonprofit Voluntary Sector Quarterly’s (NVSQ) top articles from 2018-2019 list. Out of the 14 articles highlighted, NVSQ selected three from Peter Frumkin’s summer Doctoral Fellows alumni.

Doctoral student Peter Schubert and Dr. Silke Boenigk’s article The Nonprofit Starvation Cycle: Empirical Evidence From a German Context, investigates whether the German nonprofit sector is affected by the nonprofit starvation cycle. The nonprofit starvation cycle is the phenomenon where nonprofit organizations continuously underinvest in their organizational infrastructure. This underinvestment is in response to external expectations for low overhead expenditure. By drawing on nonprofit financial data from 2006 to 2015, Schubert and Dr. Boenigk investigate if this phenomenon manifests itself in the form of falling overhead ratios over time. Contrary to previous findings in the U.S. nonprofit sector, they have found that reported overhead ratios have decreased among organizations without government funding and that these decreases originate from cuts in fundraising expenses. Schubert is a doctoral student at the University of Hamburg in Germany. His research interests revolve around financial management and accountability of nonprofit organizations. Specifically, Schubert’s research is on the nonprofit starvation cycle phenomenon. He is investigating stakeholder expectations towards cost efficiency and the pressure these expectations create for nonprofit organizations to underspend on organizational infrastructure.

Dr. Diarmuid McDonnell and Dr. Alasdair C. Rutherford’s article The Determinants of Charity Misconduct, explores the nature, extent, and determinants of charity misconduct in the context of the United Kingdom. Through the utilization of a dataset of 25,611 charities for the period 2006-2014 in Scotland, McDonnell and Rutherford have developed models to predict two dimensions of charity misconduct. These dimensions are regulatory investigation and subsequent action. Through a multivariate analysis they reveal a disconnect between charities suspected of misconduct and those subject to subsequent regulatory action. Dr. McDonnell is currently a research fellow in social policy at University of Birmingham, centering research on charitable organizations, studying their accountability behavior and motivations, and regulatory environment. 

Dr. ChiaKo Hung and Dr. Mark A. Hager’s article, The Impact of Revenue Diversification on Nonprofits Finance Health: A Meta-analysis, reviews the influence of revenue stream diversification on financial health. This review is conducted through a meta-analysis of previous studies that have examined this influence on financial health. Hung and Hager’s analysis demonstrates a small positive and statistically significant association between revenue diversification and nonprofit financial health. Along with this finding, their study shows that granularity of measurement of revenue diversification influences effect size, that this effect has shifted over time, and that studies on U.S. nonprofits demonstrate weaker (or more negative) effects. Their study supports that both analysts and practitioners should make strategic considerations that have generally escaped scholarship on revenue diversification or shift attention to revenue optimization considerations that have been raised by portfolio theory. Dr. Hung currently is an Assistant Professor in the Public Administration Program at University of  Hawai’i. At UH at Manoa Dr. Hung’s research interest is in nonprofit finance, in particular in understanding revenue interactions, revenue diversification, fundraising, overhead costs and commercialization. 

If you are interested in becoming a doctoral fellow applications are open until March 15th, 2020. Applicants who are currently enrolled in a PhD program can apply by sending a current CV, draft research paper (unpublished) on a topic related to any aspect of social impact, and an abstract to