Accountability and Web Usage in University Foundations: The United States Case Study

Accountability and Web Usage in University Foundations: The United States Case Study

María del Mar Gálvez-Rodríguez (University of Almería, Spain), María del Carmen Caba-Pérez (University of Almería, Spain) and Manuel López-Godoy (University of Almería, Spain)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5974-2.ch013
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Abstract

Information and Communications Technologies management and, in particular, Web pages are fundamental to an adequate disclosure of information and dialog to NPOs´ stakeholders. Amongst the entities of this sector, the labor of University Foundations (UF) as intermediary agents between the university and society is highlighted in this chapter. In spite of their social mission, the corruption cases of some UF have questioned their legitimacy, so the demand for new models of accountability has increased. Based on these precedents and centered on United States cases, this study presents two objectives: firstly, to analyze the influence of regulation, related to the right to information access, in UF´s Web usage as an accountability mechanism; secondly, to identify the relation between the management of 1.0 Web and the implementation of the new technologies of information—2.0 Web—in the aforementioned Web pages.
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Introduction

Nonprofit Organizations (NPO) are formal, private, nonprofit distributing, self-governing and voluntary organizations whose main purpose is to enhance society well-being (Salamon & Anheier, 1992). However, nowadays their social goal is insufficient to maintain their stakeholder’s trust, so an improvement in their accountability policy is needed. Ebrahim (2003) argued that the accountability is the result of inter and intra relations of NPOs. On the one hand, these organizations should respond to the information demands of their external stakeholders (donors, governments and society in general) in order to justify their actions, be evaluated on the results they obtain, and as a consequence, be sanctioned or awarded mainly by receiving external funding. On the other hand, accountability should also be implemented as a learning tool to improve the NPOs mission. In this sense, O'Dwyer & Unerman (2010) stated the importance of being accountable to their employees and beneficiaries as they are the key stakeholders in improving the NPO’s efficiency. Therefore, accountability is a term that embraces aspects such as transparency or information access, response, justification, control, sanction/reward and learning (Ebrahim, 2010; Murtaza, 2012).

Moreover, in recent years the social and economic impact of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) have increased due to the fact that there are excellent tools to enhance transparency and, to interact amongst diverse users (Warr, 2008; Bubou; 2011). Nonprofits organizations (NPOs) are one of the entities most favoured by ICT. In this sense, they contribute to improve NPOs management and also, to enhance the communication between the sector and their stakeholders. Therefore, ICT is considered as a key factor to strengthen the legitimacy of the NPOs (Hackler & Saxton, 2007).

Regarding the numerous benefits of these tools, Kang & Norton (2004) and Ozcelik (2008) noted that NPOs Web page or 1.0 Web is a strategic mechanism to the disclosure of information due to its accessibility, availability and low cost. Likewise, the use of 2.0 Web tools encourages dialogue and participation between the NPOs and their stakeholders (Taylor, Kent & White, 2001, Waters, 2007; Greenberg & MacAula, 2009). In this line, Saxton & Guo (2011) added that social communication technologies do not just improve a two way communication between the organization and its stakeholders (donors, beneficiaries, etc...) but also amongst the stakeholders. Therefore, 1.0 Web page and 2.0 Web technologies as one of the best accountability mechanism for NPOs are considered.

According to Curtis et al. 2010 and Briones et al. (2011) the combination of both 1.0 Web pages and 2.0 Web technologies as accountability mechanisms present several advantages to the sector such as: a) increasing the added value of the organization; b) strengthening existing stakeholder relations; c) improving the organization and coordination in emergency situations; d) enhancing the diffusion of the organization’s mission; e) increasing fundraising; f) improving awareness of social aspects that are related to the organization and; g) promoting voluntarism.

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