Productivity Improvement Programs in Public Horticultural Institutions

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University of Delaware
With few exceptions botanic gardens and arboreta are nonprofit organizations. They rely on endowments, private giving, entrance receipts., grants, and tax revenues for their operating budgets. Recent economic conditions have threatened this base of support. Public horticultural institutions are often faced with the choice of reducing services; or improving productivity to make ends meet. Productivity improvement is by far the more attractive alternative. Some gardens have taken this course. Their record for success is dismal. This thesis supports the premise that botanic gardens and arboreta have a poor record on productivity improvement because they do not have an accurate model of how their organizations function and they do not have a clear concept of the "ins and outs" of productivity. Chapter I develops the historical background of contemporary thought on how organizations function and what makes some productive. Chapter II develops an organizational model to describe botanic gardens and arboreta. Chapter III describes productivity improvement programs in four institutions. Chapter IV analyzes the four case studies using the model described in Chapter III. Finally, Chapter V points out a new direction for productivity improvement in public horticultural institutions. Botanic gardens and arboreta are not to be blamed for their poor record of productivity improvement. Most nonprofits have difficulty applying programs and models developed for profit-making organizations to the nonprofit realm. This study attempts to bridge the gap between modern organizational research and the little known field of botanic garden management.