Third Sector Development:
Making Up for the Market

Christopher Gunn
224 pages (ILR Press, 2004)

Christopher Gunn’s latest book is a plea for a new recognition of the stepchild of the U.S. economy: the fast-growing nonprofit sector. Clearly frustrated with public perceptions of what he calls the “third sector,” Gunn, an economics professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in upstate New York, provides a series of compelling examples of nonbusiness, nongovernmental success in strengthening local economies – and why such efforts are needed in a resource-rich country.

Gunn spends little time on what he sees as the traditional focus of nonprofit thinking: service and education charities. Instead, he asks the reader to think about the economically productive organizations that serve a social good with an economic logic: credit unions, cooperatives, universities, and social enterprises. “Third-Sector Development” proves to be a useful overview of new trends in social and economic progress.

These sorts of models are a rising force in our economy with the potential to facilitate substantial social good. Gunn’s readers likely already know about these new kinds of institutions. However, aside from its lack of new inspiration, Gunn provides this innovative community with a useful road map of itself – a road map that, with luck, will be used by the first and second sectors as well.