When the means modify the ends. (E)Valuating and transforming the purpose of a nonprofit organization through impact assessment.


  • Chantale Mailhot HEC Montréal
  • Valérie Michaud ESG UQAM
  • Sonia Tello-Rozas ESG-UQAM




valuation, impact assessment, Economies of Worth, nonprofit organization.


In a context marked by a trend towards marketization and a rise in performance measures, nonprofit organizations (NPOs) suffer pressures to show that their activities have visible impacts. Based on the French pragmatist sociology’s Economies of Worth framework, we explore how NPOs may come to change what they value and what is their fundamental purpose. More specifically, we delve into the process of valuation triggered by the intervention of consultants to help a NPO develop an impact evaluation tool aimed at legitimizing its actions. Our findings show how this process led to a complete redefinition of the NPO’s “theory of change”, ultimately distantiating the NPO from its initial, explicit purposes.

Author Biographies

Valérie Michaud , ESG UQAM

Full Professor at ESG UQAM

Sonia Tello-Rozas , ESG-UQAM

Associate Professor at ESG-UQAM


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