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The intermediary organisational structure of voluntary associations

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The organisational structure of voluntary associations has usually been described as 'unbureaucratic', and accordingly the managerial advice has been to bureaucratise. However, the following questions arise: What are the functional substitutes for the weak bureaucratic elements that structure work in voluntary associations and what dysfunctions might be connected with bureaucratisation? This article captures the characteristics of voluntary associations in the 'voluntary, democratic, independent, volunteer association' ideal type. These characteristics indicate the structural prerequisites needed to support this ideal type and the consequences they have for the organisational structure. Most important is that organisational structure has to provide 'direct incentives', which are connected with the purpose and work of the voluntary association and its members. The organisational structure of voluntary associations is characterised as intermediary between small groups and organisations. Interaction crystallisation and personalisation are identified as functional substitutes for formalisation and specialisation. The key problem is to find a balance between these group-like and organisation-like features.
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Keywords: NON-PROFIT ORGANISATION; ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURE; VOLUNTARY ASSOCIATION

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Email: [email protected]

Publication date: March 1, 2018

This article was made available online on March 16, 2018 as a Fast Track article with title: "The intermediary organisational structure of voluntary associations".

More about this publication?
  • 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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