Training the leaders... of tomorrow.


Lester M. Salamon, Ph.D.
Founding Director / Principal Research Scientist
U.S. and international nonprofit sector
Social welfare policy
Economic development policy

For me, the field of policy studies provides an almost unique opportunity to join the worlds of thought and action, to bring knowledge to bear on real life problems more directly than is usually possible. It also provides an opportunity to go beyond the stereotypes and mythologies that all too often get in the way of serious debate on public problems, both in this country and around the world.

 The stereotype that has attracted my attention particularly over the two past decades has been the popular image of the expanding, bureaucratic state. Overlooked in this image has been the reality of “third party government,” the fact that governments at all levels enlist a variety of “third parties”—lower levels of government, private banks, insurance companies, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and the like—to carry out government programs and respond to public needs. As part of this, I have been exploring the important role that private, nonprofit organizations have come to play in the operation of public programs and the solution of public problems both in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world. This set of institutions has grown massively in scope and function in recent decades, yet its presence has been largely overlooked both in academic study and in policy debates. Through the work we are doing at IPS, we are making important headway in remedying this situation.

Most recently, we have succeeded in convincing the United Nations Statistics Division to publish a new Handbook on Nonprofit Institutions in the System of National Accounts, which calls on statistical agencies throughout the world to improve the way they cover nonprofit institutions in basic national economic statistics. To date, 26 countries have agreed to adopt this Handbook and seven of them have generated the new “satellite account” on the nonprofit sector that this Handbook prescribes.

We have also made progress in recent years in shedding useful light on the broader range of “tools” or “instruments” that the public sector is increasingly using to address public problems – loans, loan guarantees, contracting, grants, regulation, vouchers, insurance, and many more. Our recent Oxford University Press book on The Tools of Government has generated considerable interest and has become the focus of a working group involving senior government, academic, and private sector leaders.

Dr. Salamon is a leading expert on alternative tools of government action and on the nonprofit sector in the U.S. and around the world. He has served as deputy associate director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget and has taught at Harvard, Vanderbilt, and Duke Universities and at Tougaloo College in Mississippi. He holds a Ph.D. in government from Harvard University and a B.A. in economics and policy studies from Princeton University. He has written or edited over 20 books; his articles have appeared in Foreign Affairs, the New York Times, Voluntas, and numerous other publications. His most recent books include: The Tools of Government: A Guide to the New Governance (Oxford University Press, 2002); The State of Nonprofit America (Brookings Institution Press, 2003); and Global Civil Society: Dimensions of the Nonprofit Sector, Volume II (Kumarian Press, 2004).


Click here for Dr. Salamon's full C.V.

Current Research/Projects

  • Comparative Nonprofit Sector / United Nations Non-Profit Handbook Project
  • ILO Project to Measure Volunteer Work
  • Listening Post Project
  • The New Governance Project
  • Nonprofit Employment Data Project
  • Salamon, L. and S. Lessans Geller (2007). “Maryland Nonprofit Employment Update,” NED Bulletin No. 28, Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies, Center for Civil Society Studies.

Course Offerings

195.608 The Policy Tools

Related Sites

Center for Civil Society Studies: