Document Type


Publication Date



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Social Work


A basic theoretical challenge for third sector scholars today is to speak in general and consistent terms about the institutional and normative orders forming outside households, markets and governments in numerous countries, regions and urban centers everywhere. The third sectors of the world have formed in light of a range of distinctive local conditions, including history, culture, law and other factors. A growing international group of scholars has produced a convincing, although limited and partial model of the third sector based in the linked concepts of nonprofit organization, nonprofit sector and non-distribution constraints. We will need to pay greater heed to the diversity and complexity of this newly invented sector before we can expect to succeed in describing and explaining it more systematically as has already been done with families, markets and governments.