The need for non-profit organisations (NPOs) to adopt a ‘market orientation’ has been promoted widely in the academic literature. To date, research in this area has focussed on either measuring the degree of market orientation within an NPO or detailing the financial and other benefits that accrue from a market orientation. Although this body of research acknowledges there are barriers to the adoption of a market orientation no study has identified the nature of these barriers. This study contributes to our knowledge by identifying what managers of small locally based NPOs perceive as the main barriers to the adoption of a market orientation.
Barriers to the adoption of a market orientation were identified through a qualitative study that included the development of eight case studies. In the cases studied the greatest barrier to the adoption of a market orientation by an NPO was its size (as measured by staff numbers). The larger the NPO the less difficulty it has adopting a market orientation. However, two other factors can also influence the adoption of a market orientation. These are: organisational dynamics and individual leadership. This paper discusses each of these factors and concludes by suggesting avenues for further research.