Research in nonprofit human resource management from 2015 to 2018: Trends, insights, and opportunities

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Date of Original Version



Purpose: This paper systematically reviews the past four years of research on human resource management (HRM) in nonprofit organizations (NPOs) to better understand: (1) recent theoretical and empirical developments and where scholarship in the field is headed (i.e. trends); (2) what topics and findings are especially important to understanding how the thought and practice of nonprofit HRM differs from that in public and for-profit organizations (i.e. insights); and (3) what gaps exist in current knowledge and scholarship and some real-world, practice-driven developments in people management that illuminate promising future research directions (i.e. opportunities). Design/methodology/approach: Sixty-seven peer-reviewed journal articles covering the period 2015–2018 were identified using a university library database search, as well as by-hand searches through every issue of 22 nonprofit and 36 human resources-related journals during the four-year period. Findings: The findings highlight strong continued interest by scholars in a wide range of nonprofit HRM issues, coverage of these issues by a worldwide network of researchers who bring global perspectives and contexts to the study of nonprofit HRM, and rich theoretical and methodological diversity. Yet, compared with the universe of possible human resource topics and several leading-edge developments in organizations and societies that might affect the way people are managed in nonprofits, the paper uncovers gaps in the most recent knowledge base. Originality/value: The paper creates a compilation of the most recent nonprofit human resource research to be used as a tool for scholars, students, and practitioners for many years to come.

Publication Title

Employee Relations