Department of Management


Date of this Version

Winter 2008


Published in Nonprofit Management & Leadership 19:2 (Winter 2008), pp. 203–219; doi: 10.1002/nml.215 Copyright © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Used by permission.


We examine the idea that mental models shared among paid and volunteer leaders are associated with improved financial performance in nonprofit organizations. Our empirical analysis of thirty-seven churches yields evidence that organizations are more effective if paid and volunteer leaders have a shared task mental model—that is, if they report similar conceptualizations of organizational goals and decision-making processes. These findings suggest that the extent of leaders’ agreement on organizational goals and the processes of how decisions are made matter for organizational performance. We argue that it is as important to ensure that everyone is on the same page with regard to goals and how decisions are made as it is to have the “right” goals or right decision processes in place. Implications for practice and future research on shared mental models are discussed.