Understanding Structuring and Variation in a Nonprofit Subfield: Examining Institutional and Regional Pressures in U.S. Historic Preservation Nonprofits


  • Anne-Lise Knox Velez Virginia Tech




Nonprofit Subsectors, Nonprofit Decision-Making, Regional, Historic Preservation


Public administration and management recognizes key subsectors in the public sphere as nested within and shaped by institutional fields. However, we know little about the forces that influence their development at different levels or how patterns in institutional fields and in forces shaping these fields vary by level and location. We therefore understand little about potential levels for shaping nonprofit advocacy, decision-making, and organizational capacity in nonhomogenous subsectors. This mixed methods study examines nested pressures shaping a U.S. nonprofit subsector, focusing on two ecological levels of influence in historic preservation nonprofits. I use data from 96 interviews with National Trust Partner organizations in 44 states to develop typologies of professional approaches to preservation and capacity. Findings indicate that both national and regional pressures shape scope and capacity in these nonprofits, underscoring the importance of considering institutional contexts structuring subsectors rather than assuming sector-wide patterns and behaviors. This study provides a baseline for future research on developments in the U.S. nonprofit historic preservation subsector and provides insight for practitioners and legislators into the levels that shape scope and capacity in nonprofit subsectors.

Author Biography

Anne-Lise Knox Velez, Virginia Tech

Anne-Lise K. Velez holds a Ph.D. in public administration and is currently a collegiate assistant professor in architecture and urban studies at Virginia Tech, where she is working on curriculum development for the Calhoun Honors Discovery Program and research on public and nonprofit management. Because of her background in design and her work with nonprofits, Anne-Lise is particularly interested in management decisions and policies that involve the built environment and human interactions with the natural environment, especially as related to community well-being and sustainability.






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