Commitment to Social Justice and its Influence on Job Satisfaction and Retention of Nonprofit Middle Managers

David Vincent, Fordham University


Nonprofit social service providers play a significant role in fighting for social justice and meeting human needs in communities across the United States. Domestic growth projections suggest that over the next decade, providers will require 640,000 new senior managers to meet organizational needs. Where robust growth is anticipated in terms of recruiting and retaining senior managers, there is even greater concern in the need for executive leadership in the field. Among nonprofit Executive Directors, 67% plan on leaving in the next 5 years. Many are concerned that we are falling deeper and deeper into a leadership crisis, as there are too few middle managers in the “pipeline” to meet the needs of nonprofit leadership. Today’s middle managers need to be cultivated and developed, so they can successfully move up the nonprofit management ladder and be leaders of tomorrow working toward social justice. In a survey of nonprofit managers, only 47% selected the non-profit sector as their ideal next job with 69% feeling underpaid and unappreciated. Consequently, 64% are considering leaving their current nonprofit position. While several studies have examined the constructs of job satisfaction, career aspirations of staff, and intention to leave their current place of employment, few have examined this subject from a nonprofit middle management perspective. A comprehensive literature review failed to find any research that explored the relationship between the middle manager’s orientation to social justice and job satisfaction. The goal of this study is to explore how social justice orientation and organizational commitment influenced the career aspirations, job satisfaction and intention to leave of middle managers in social service organizations. Specifically, it sought to determine whether middle manager’s orientation to social justice was associated with: a) their job satisfaction, intention to stay with the agency, career aspirations; and b) if these associations were mediated by their commitment to their agency. Using a cross-section study design, with a purposive sample, the data from this study was collected from middle managers who were employed in United Neighborhood Houses of New York City member agencies. The data suggests that organizational commitment plays a critical role in the relationship between social justice and both job satisfaction and intention to stay. Findings from this study will help us better understand how middle managers perceive their own career aspirations and job satisfaction and can provide leaders with important data as they develop and implement strategies to better support these critical staff positions.

Subject Area

Social work|Management

Recommended Citation

Vincent, David, "Commitment to Social Justice and its Influence on Job Satisfaction and Retention of Nonprofit Middle Managers" (2016). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10153609.