Cultural Clashes in Non-Profit Partnerships
What's Going on and What Can We Do?
This thought piece, which grows out of Chapin Hall’s and La Piana Associate’s national study of partial consolidations and full-scale mergers among nonprofit organizations, considers the nature and meaning of the cultural clashes, which executive directors, board members, staff members, and funders interviewed for the national study often cited as challenges in their consolidation efforts. Drawing particularly on the perspective of Edgar H. Schein, a noted authority on organizational culture, the author reexamines two nonprofit partnerships involved in the national study—one that was relatively successful, one that was not—in light of Schein’s ideas about how organizational leaders foster culture and the conditions under which cultures can change. The article, designed to spur the thinking of those involved in or planning consolidations as well as that of researchers investigating this fairly neglected area of nonprofit study, concludes by emphasizing the difficulty of combining two or more cultures and the importance that leaders provide convincing, clear, and consistent messages about why cultural integration is important and how much is needed.