Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Fred J. Galloway, EdD, Chair; Robert Donmoyer, PhD, Member; George E. Reed, PhD, Member


accountability, contextual approach, daily-ethics behaviors, decision-making, Leadership studies, management, nonprofit ethics survey, open communication, organizational ethics, transparency


Organizational ethics require the attention of nonprofit leaders as regulatory trends and accountability measures increase. In spite of this interest, little empirical research has been conducted on ethics assessment within the nonprofit sector and more importantly, no survey instrument currently exists exclusively designed for nonprofit organizations to assess the perceptions of ethics within their organization. This lack of tools and information prohibits comprehensive self-assessment, and forces a reactive, single-loop approach to ethical issues, rather than a feedback system based on actual data. To address this need, the Nonprofit Ethics Survey provides a practioner-friendly survey designed to assess the perceptions of ethics held by the affiliates of nonprofit organizations. Development of the instrument occurred through the use of factor analysis, specifically, two principal components analyses, conducted on a sample of 530 nonprofit affiliates; which included 78 board members. The results of the first factor analysis identified the following six underlying constructs: Transparency; Daily-Ethics Behaviors of Board Members; Open Communication; Daily-Ethics Behaviors of Senior Staff; Decision Making; and Accountability. The second principal components analysis, conducted on a question set only responded to by voting board members, yielded a promising preliminary seventh construct to measure Governance. Taken together, the two principal components analyses facilitated the revision of the survey to achieve a parsimonious means of measuring the perceptions of ethics within nonprofit organizations. Additionally, a measure of Cronbach's Alpha was calculated for each scale in the survey to determine the level of internal consistency; these coefficients ranged from 0.86–0.94, indicating the survey provides a reliable means of measuring the constructs related to organizational ethics in nonprofit agencies. Each scale in the Nonprofit Ethics Survey uses Likert-style questions in addition to a small number of dichotomous variables and overall rating questions. The creation of a statistically sound instrument designed to assess nonprofit ethics ensures that organizations have the ability to accurately self-assess from an ethical perspective. As such, the development of this practitioner-friendly, statistically supported instrument that is well-grounded in theory represents a significant contribution to both the theoretical and empirical literature on nonprofit organizational ethics and third sector studies.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Leadership Studies