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Third sector independence: relations with the state in an age of austerity

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Abstract:

Third sector organisations deliver a range of public services for government. They are valued and trusted by commissioners, clients and wider society because of their independence. However, the extent to which the third sector is independent is questioned. Drawing on qualitative longitudinal research with third sector organisations in Scotland, this article explores how third sector organisations delivering public services manage the demands of changing funding structures and relationships with government, and the implications for their independence. It explores how organisations understand and negotiate the tension between their independence and missiondriven social action, and delivering commissioned and contracted public services. In doing so, it highlights the challenges to independence in a dynamically changing political, policy and financial climate, as well as opportunities for organisations to emphasise their distinctive contribution to public service delivery.

Keywords: INDEPENDENCE; PUBLIC SERVICE DELIVERY; QUALITATIVE LONGITUDINAL RESEARCH; THIRD SECTOR

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1332/204080516X14739278719772

Affiliations: 1: Email: V.Egdell@napier.ac.uk 2: Email: M.Dutton@napier.ac.uk

Publication date: 2017-03-01

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  • Voluntary Sector Review publishes high-quality, peer-reviewed, accessible papers on third sector research, policy and practice. It is an invaluable cutting-edge resource for all those researching or working in the fast-growing voluntary, community and wider third sectors.

    The journal covers the full range of issues relevant to voluntary sector studies, including: definitional and theoretical debates; management and organisational development; financial and human resources; philanthropy; volunteering and employment; regulation and charity law; service delivery; civic engagement; industry and sub-sector dimensions; relations with other sectors; social enterprise; evaluation and impact. Voluntary Sector Review covers voluntary sector studies from a variety of disciplines, including sociology, social policy, politics, psychology, economics, business studies, social anthropology, philosophy and ethics. The journal includes work from the UK and Europe, and beyond, where cross-national comparisons are illuminating. With dedicated expert policy and practice sections, Voluntary Sector Review also provides an essential forum for the exchange of ideas and new thinking.

    Rigorous and stimulating, Voluntary Sector Review is an indispensable tool for everyone who values empirically-grounded, theoretically-informed and policy-relevant reviews of the future direction of the voluntary sector.

    Editors: Nick Acheson (Trinity College, University of Dublin, Ireland), Bernard Harris (University of Strathclyde, UK), Rob Macmillan, (University of Birmingham, UK)

    The journal is published in association with the Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN) and a print copy of the journal is a membership benefit.

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