Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Hans Peter Schmitz, PhD; Steven A. Gelb, PhD; Mary B. McDonald, PhD


International Nonprofit, Nonprofit, Transnational, Transnationalism


Transnationals have long been a subject of academic discussion. Described differently according to discipline and study, the primary characteristic of transnationals is that they cross borders in support of a broad range of purposes, including advocacy and service provision, and profession and research. While not explicitly engaged within the nonprofit conversation up to this point, transnationals do have an implicit association with the nonprofit sector. This dissertation locates the transnationals in the nonprofit sector bringing a particular type of transnational into the nonprofit conversation: the native/indigenous transnational nonprofit leader. Based on findings of an exploratory case study, this leader is a skilled leader original to a country outside of North America or Europe who frequently crosses borders to obtain resources and foster relationships, both locally and internationally, to achieve their nonprofit mission benefitting their country of origin. This dissertation expands the case study findings to investigate in greater detail how the leader negotiates his insider/outsider position as part of his nonprofit work.

The purpose of this case study is to explore more fully the insider/outsider nonprofit negotiation of two native Guatemalan transnational nonprofit leaders who travel regularly between Guatemala and North America in order to engage his understandings of the key nonprofit topics. The question for this dissertation asks: how does the native/indigenous nonprofit leader’s positionality, as insider/outsider, inform his theory of action for his organization? An exploratory study concluded the leader negotiates his local to international interactions positioning him as both insider and outsider simultaneously despite the location he occupies. Findings of this dissertation suggest these leaders use the privileges of their insider/outsider situation as bridges to advance their nonprofit work while simultaneously engaging in gatekeeping activities to control the message about their organizations. As a result, the leaders negotiate nonprofit understandings that often collide with the current nonprofit discourse on accountability, advocacy, development, effectiveness, and sector professionalization. The study concludes the dominant nonprofit conversation may not be particularly translatable to a Guatemalan context suggesting a more comprehensive, proactively participatory, and collaborative nonprofit conversation is needed.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Leadership Studies