Identity Brokerage and Nonprofit Community Building

Dawn Gilpin, Nina K. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Scholars have increasingly approached organizations as complex systems with indeterminate, shifting boundaries. Boundaries in many nonprofit organizations may be especially fluid, given the heterogeneity of stakeholders and highly multiplexed relational and value characteristics involved in constructing identity. The present study frames nonprofit organizations as complex organizations seeking to build communities of legitimacy. Within these communities they construct their identity through a combination of boundary setting, or perceptions of the organization and in what ways it is distinct from other organizations and communities, and relationship building, through both interpersonal contacts and socially mediated interaction. These dimensions combine to allow organizations to identify and bridge structural holes in the larger network in which they are embedded, through processes of identity brokerage. These mechanisms have significant implications for driving growth and engagement in nonprofit organizations. In support of this theoretical model, the article describes a mixed-methods research study involving a nascent arts organization in a large U.S. city.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)354-373
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Nonprofit and Public Sector Marketing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2013


  • arts
  • community
  • complexity
  • identity
  • social media
  • social network analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Marketing


Dive into the research topics of 'Identity Brokerage and Nonprofit Community Building'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this