“Building a Culture”: The Construction and Evolution of Venture Philanthropy as a New Organizational Field

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly



Case Study Sector


"Venture philanthropy” burst loudly onto the scene in the mid- to late 1990s, promoted as a way to revolutionize grantmaking. Today the field has been refined, and its proponents are more modest. The case of venture philanthropy provides insights into the construction and evolution of a “new” organizational field and “new” professional culture, topics that require further scholarly exploration. Qualitative research examining venture philanthropy organizations and their leaders is reported here. Findings suggest that although the dot-com boom was an important prompt, the construction and diffusion of the field depended on opinion leaders who strategically defined, legitimated, and advocated the new model. The fit with existing culture and institutionalization via networks was also important. Implementation difficulties and the business–nonprofit culture clash are among factors forcing evolution of the field. Several avenues for further research on this understudied field, and on other new fields and hybrid professional cultures, are suggested by these findings.



  • Strategy


  • Northern America

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