Jeremy Thornton, associate dean and professor of economics in Samford University’s Brock School of Business, has had new research published. The article, “Nonprofit Organizations as Multisided Platforms,” was published in October 2022 by the Academy of Management Review which is listed as the #3 journal in the management category and the #4 journal in the business category of all scientific journals worldwide.
The paper, cowritten with Jennifer Kuan, assistant professor at California State University Monterey Bay, draws research from Nobel prize winning theoretical work on multisided platforms such as Google, Facebook or the New York Times, which serve multiple groups of consumers simultaneously.
In their paper, Thornton and Kuan propose that nonprofits can be modeled as profit-maximizers serving a two-sided market while presenting a formal model to demonstrate how multisided platforms can explain nonprofit behavior. They also address a long-standing theoretical question about what nonprofits optimize. Their proposed theory can be used to explain nonprofit types and the differences between nonprofits and for-profits, addressing some of the important limitations of existing nonprofit theory. While technical, the paper offers practical guidance to nonprofit managers regarding how to set prices or engage new donors to maximize their impact.
Thornton said, “While often unnoticed by our students and constituents, the difficult work of publishing research in high quality journals demonstrates the Brock School of Business’ commitment to engaging our students with impactful ideas and pursuing thought leadership in the area of social entrepreneurship.”
In addition to his role as associate dean and professor of economics, Thornton serves as the coordinator of the social entrepreneurship program in Brock School of Business. He teaches micro-economic theory, development economics, social entrepreneurship and international economics. Prior to his academic career, Thornton was involved in international economic development. In that role, he facilitated the design micro-finance and anti-poverty programs for civil society organizations in developing countries, primarily Latin America.