Methodological sampling issues for researching new nonprofit organisations
This paper outlines a successful method used to locate new nonprofit organisations for a qualitative case study. The sampling method successfully located many more potential participants than required for the study. The approach was completed quickly, cost very little and required very few resources. It was not time consuming, especially when compared with the achievements in finding many suitable cases for the study. In addition the method enabled the potential participants to be theoretical screened for suitability before being included in the study. The approach is equally appropriate for quantitative studies and qualitative research. Similar sampling methods could be employed by other small enterprise researchers, since they are not specific to the locality of this study, nor are they culturally sensitive. The approach has important implications for researching new small business enterprises and also emerging nonprofit organisations. The process of new venture creation is often described as having a lifecycle: conception where individuals decide to found a new venture; gestation and birth where steps are taken to found the new venture; and infancy where the new business is established and pursues strategies to achieve its mission, after which some enterprises may grow, or others may die. To understand the issues that affect the survival of new ventures it is important to research organisations at each stage of development, that is, from the earliest stage of conceptualisation, through to organisations that are well established and fully functional. Researching participants at different stages of development provides for greater clarity. Hence a better understanding of how to locate suitable research participants at both ends of the organisational lifecycle will contribute to knowledge of successful outcome for new enterprises. It is somewhat difficult, however, to locate new ventures at either end of the organisational lifecycle. Those that are very newly formed or those that have ceased to operate are virtually invisible. Locating new ventures at the early conceptual stage is quite difficult until they start to engage in the market, or become visible through legal registrations. New nonprofit organisations in particular are difficult to locate through institutional mechanisms since they often do not register as legal entities for some time following their creation. It is valuable also to include negative cases, that is, those that have not been successful. Knowing the processes that precipitated closure of new enterprises provides vital information on important issues that can not be readily sourced in other ways, yet once organisations close they are very difficult to locate. The sampling method described located ventures across the organisational lifecycle. It was successful in finding those at the very early stage and also those that had closed.
52nd International Council for Small Business Conference