Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Department of Sociology

Committee Chair

Kathy Kuipers


development, nonprofit, professional, rural, training


University of Montana


Since sociology of nonprofit professionals and organizations is new and sociologists have not yet been able to theorize or adequately address the strategies and behavior of nonprofit organizations, this study is to give an in-depth view on the nature of nonprofit professional development and training in Montana. The research examines the similarities and differences between rural and urban nonprofit organizations and professionals in the United States depending upon the degree of rural setting, values, attitudes, culture, and challenges. To address the research topic, institutional theories on organizational behavior are applied to this study. The social capital theory is used to help in understanding the nature of nonprofit organizations, particularly, how shared networks of trust and reciprocity among rural nonprofits provide access to needed information, resources, and support. The literature also describes and explains the characteristics of rural–urban nonprofit organizations and professional work. Lastly, since little empirical research has addressed the specifics of IT adoption, implementation, and use in small (nonprofit) organizations, this study will address these issues by focusing on current IT training offerings and barriers for nonprofits. Semi-structured interviews with open-ended questions, based on personal contact with informants and descriptions of their perceptions, are implemented in this study to form a case study of nonprofit professionals in nonprofit organizations. The results explain barriers Montana nonprofits face in receiving adequate training and professional development, since professionals (especially in small rural communities) are sometimes left without proper training and often feel isolated from resource opportunities they could receive if located in a larger urban area. Attention is also given to the in-person networks and information technology as they can be seen as an alternative for the efficient provision of information and training at low cost in rural areas. The results conclude with suggestions for the nonprofit professional development and training in regards to coordination and collaboration between the state, the nonprofit sector, and the universities in providing better training opportunities and future development for nonprofit professionals in Montana statewide.



© Copyright 2006 Jenni Johanna Pohjoispuro