Master’s degree in Business Administration and Corporate Law

Course partially running (all years except the first)

Nonprofit Sector Economics

Course code
Name of lecturer
Luca Zarri
Luca Zarri
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
secondo semestre (lauree magistrali) dal Mar 1, 2021 al Jun 1, 2021.

Lesson timetable

Go to lesson schedule

Learning outcomes

The major goal of this course is to provide students with a better and more rigorous understanding of the key role that so called nonprofit organizations can play within contemporary economic systems (i.e. within post-industrial economies). Next, the course focuses on the specific interplays between nonprofits, for-profit firms and public organizations. These complex phenomena can be fruitfully analyzed through the lens of the major theoretical constructs and empirical findings obtained in the last years within the framework of nonprofit sector economics. The first part of the course will focus on the major theories on nonprofit organizations, whereas the second part will mainly deal with recent empirical evidence.


- Why does the non profit sector exist, within a market economy? Weisbrod's theory of government failure and Hansmann's theory of market failure.
- Collective action dilemmas, trust and pro-social behavior.
- Fair trade and market economy: are they compatible? The key economic effects of fair trade on market dynamics.
- Positional goods, relational goods, (bridging vs bonding) social capital accumulation and civic capital accumulation.
- Fundraisers as mediators between donors and nonprofit organizations. Ethical issues: US position papers and the Italian experience.


- Musella M., D’Acunto S., 2000, Economia politica del non profit, Giappichelli, Torino.
- Sacco P.L., Zarri L., 2006, Perché esiste il settore non profit?, Filosofia e Questioni Pubbliche.
- Ecchia G., Zarri L., 2005, Capitale sociale e accountability: il ruolo del bilancio di missione nella governance delle organizzazioni non profit, in Fazzi L. and Giorgetti G. (editors), Il bilancio sociale per le organizzazioni nonprofit. Teoria e pratica, Guerini e Associati, Milano.
- Becchetti L., Paganetto L., 2003, Finanza etica. Commercio equo e solidale, Donzelli editore.

Further teaching materials will be provided online, through the E-learning service, within the specific webpage prepared for this course.

Assessment methods and criteria

Written exam (based on three open questions) aimed at testing students' familiarity with the key theoretical constructs and empirical analyses developed in the last years within the nonprofit economics framework as well as their understanding of the specific role that nonprofit organizations can play within contemporary economic systems, including the interplays between nonprofits, for-profit firms and public organizations.

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