I'm a PhD candidate in the Stanford University Department of Sociology and affiliated scholar with the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (PACS)
My research centers on how abstract ideals—democracy, accountability, efficiency—manifest concretely in organizational forms and practices and how organizations both produce and resolve democratic inequalities.
Employing a variety of research methods (historical, quantitative, and qualitative), my work explores: (1) How the advent of administrative science in US government transformed the relationship between the state and the people, drew new lines of inclusion and exclusion, and changed how we understand and practice democracy; (2) How mega-wealthy philanthropists and their organizations—once viewed as “repugnant to the whole idea of democratic society”—came to be seen as legitimate underwriters of public provision and as authoritative figures in political agenda-setting. (3) How broad cultural ideals of accountability and efficiency shape how nonprofit organizations understand their civic purpose, engage with the public, and respond to communities’ needs.
See my website (linked above) for more on publications, ongoing independent and collaborative research projects, press coverage, and pieces I've written for broader audiences.
Horvath, Aaron and Walter W. Powell. 2020. “Seeing Like a Philanthropist: From the Business of Benevolence to the Benevolence of Business.” Forthcoming in The Nonprofit Sector : A Research Handbook, 3rd Edition, edited by Walter W. Powell and Patricia Bromley. Stanford: Stanford University Press.(PDF)