Quality, service level, or empire: Which is the objective of the nonprofit arts firm?

Arthur C. Brooks, Jan I. Ondrich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


In this article, we examine the objectives of nonprofit arts firms. We approach this problem from both theoretical and empirical angles, building a structural model of arts nonprofit utility that distinguishes between the maximization of quality, the organization's level of service, and its budget. We then construct an empirical method for testing which objective is evident in firm-level data. As an example application, we test the objectives of the managers of American public radio stations in the 1990s, finding that about half of stations have discernible objectives. The data show service is not an objective for about 30% of the stations; quality can be ruled out for 49%; and budget is rejected for 69%. In addition, large stations are harder to classify by objective than small ones are.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-142
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Cultural Economics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Charitable giving
  • Managerial objectives
  • Public radio

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)


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