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About this book

Addressing a key social policy problem, this book analyses modern voluntary organisations through the lens of a new theory of hybrid organisations, which is tested and developed in the context of a range of case studies. Essential reading for all interested in the future of the third sector.

Table of Contents



1. From welfare bureaucracies to welfare hybrids

This book is about the growing and increasingly significant role of ‘hybrid organizations’ in the ‘third sector’. Both these terms will be explored in detail later in the book, but they demand some immediate working definitions in order to clarify the main focus and themes of the book.
David Billis

2. Third sector organizations in a contradictory policy environment

This chapter looks at the public and social policy environment within which third sector organizations (TSOs) in the UK have been operating in recent years, especially during the period of New Labour governments since 1997. It shows that many elements in the policy environment in the period have been particularly conducive to the trends outlined in Chapter 1 — towards greater TSO hybridity and to the formation of new complex hybrid structures. It also shows that there are other influences in the TSO policy environment that may be simultaneously pushing TSOs in a different direction — towards preserving their organizational autonomy and protecting their organizational boundaries.
Margaret Harris

3. Towards a theory of hybrid organizations

Hybrid organizations are ubiquitous. They are international, multi-sector phenomena and their unclear sector accountability often engenders unease and distrust. And in our area of concern we appear to have stumbled into a period of intense organizational hybridity in which we appear to be drifting up the (welfare hybrid) creek not only without a paddle, but also without a reliable map. Expressed in a somewhat more scholarly fashion the first priority in the preliminary agenda of issues laid out in Chapter 1 is the need to develop ‘tentative theories’ (Popper, 1972) of hybrid organizations.
David Billis

4. The governance of hybrid organizations

The focus of this chapter is on the challenges that are raised by hybridity for the governance of third sector organizations (TSOs). In particular, it will explore how it affects governance structures and processes and the challenges it poses for governing bodies.
Chris Cornforth, Roger Spear

Hybridity in Action


5. Volunteers in hybrid organizations: A marginalised majority

The involvement of volunteers, both at board and at service level, is one of the defining features of third sector organizations or TSOs (Billis and Harris, 1996; see also Billis, 2003). Indeed, having a human resource structure reliant on volunteers as opposed to paid staff is one of the five key traits identified by David Billis in Chapter 3 as distinguishing associations from bureaucracies.
Angela Ellis Paine, Nick Ockenden, Joanna Stuart

6. Faith-based organizations and hybridity: A special case

In this chapter, we will discuss the ways in which religious and faith-based organizations have experienced the growing pressures towards hybridity during the past decade. We will assess the extent to which they have been influenced by expectations which are specific to them as well as by the general social policy drivers, discussed in Chapter 2, which affect third sector organizations (TSOs) across the board. We will discuss the impact of these pressures on faith-based organizations and consider the extent to which their experience, especially at community level, of resisting or embracing hybridization is different from that of other TSOs. And, finally, we will explore the implications of the distinctive forms that hybridity takes in faith-based organizations for their role in the provision of social welfare.
Colin Rochester, Malcolm Torry

7. Community anchor organizations: Sustainability and independence

This chapter will focus on ‘multi-purpose’ community-based organizations, otherwise known as ‘community anchor organizations’ (Home Office, 2004; HM Treasury, 2007). As well as being important in terms of their increasing role in the delivery of public services, they also offer an especially interesting example of the effects of hybridization. With their roots in the associational world, but with the addition of a strong service-providing role, they straddle the worlds of association and bureaucracy that are described in Chapter 3 of this volume; they could thus be described as shallow hybrids. Drawing on our own recent research, the chapter will discuss some of the ways in which community anchor organizations are becoming more hybrid in nature before considering some of the strategies which these organizations might employ to meet the challenges of hybridity.
Romayne Hutchison, Ben Cairns

8. Social enterprises: Challenges from the field

This chapter examines some of the challenges facing social enterprises and considers these in the light of some of the theory of hybridity presented in Chapter 3 of this volume. Social enterprises provide useful material for this discussion as even the terminology is highly suggestive of mixed approaches. Some accounts have typified them as exemplars of a hybrid form which intertwine within one organization the ‘different components and rationales’ of state, market and civil society (Evers, 2004, p. 8). An examination of social enterprises — considering both the dynamics of their operating environment and the internal organizational tensions they face — could be illuminated by a consideration of some theoretical ideas about hybridity. The policy and funding environment has encouraged the development of social enterprises and has seen them as convenient entrepreneurial vehicles for delivering welfare services formerly managed by the public sector. Meanwhile, practitioners within social enterprises have pointed to the internal organizational challenges of a ‘conflict in culture between “care” and “business”’ within their governance and operations (Social Firms, 2009). This chapter considers to what extent such tensions can be understood by considering them as hybrids which draw on operating principles from different sectors.
Mike Aiken

9. Hybridity in partnership working: Managing tensions and opportunities

Recent years have seen a move from ‘government to governance’ which has involved new actors alongside the state in governing. The significance of this change has been flagged up in the introduction to this book and in Chapter 4. Many commentators have been critical of these new arrangements, suggesting that third sector organizations (TSOs) can easily become co-opted onto state agendas through the demands on their time and resources and through ‘rules of the game’ that are dictated by the state.
Joanna Howard, Marilyn Taylor

10. Housing associations: Agents of policy or profits in disguise

Social housing is a field in which the third sector role has been transformed beyond recognition over the past quarter century. This can be depicted as a process of shifting governance. Assets and strategic policy levers have been progressively stripped away from local government, with responsibility for both delivery and management of social housing increasingly vested with the boards of independent organizations (Mullins, 2006a). This progression has had two main components. First, since the mid-1980s, virtually all new publicly funded social housing has been constructed by housing associations rather than local authorities — around half a million new homes have been built in this way since 1980. Second, since 1988, over 150 local authorities have transferred their entire housing portfolio to housing associations (Pawson, 2006).
David Mullins, Hal Pawson

11. Encountering hybridity: Lessons from individual experiences

In the past 20 years, the concept of the ‘three sectors’ in which the landscape of institutional life is divided into the public, private and ‘third’ sectors has become well established. From the UK Home Office to the World Bank in Washington DC, forms of this model have guided policy makers in the ways they have tried to develop and implement their ideas in both industrialised and developing country contexts. A belief in the third sector’s special capacity to deliver certain types of social services, or to foster community-level participation, has been central to mainstream policy thinking across many national and international contexts. The model offers us a useful analytical framework but, as most people involved on the ground will also know from their experience, the everyday realities of life within third sector organizations are complex and messy, and, as many of the chapters in this volume suggest, may be becoming more so. Furthermore, as Billis (Chapter 1, this volume) argues, the structures and identities of organisations within the third sector have become extremely complex during the past decade, leaving the coherence of the very idea of ‘sector’ ever more open to question.
David Lewis

12. Revisiting the key challenges: Hybridity, ownership and change

This final chapter returns to the key challenges posed in Chapter 1 and, in particular, the issues surrounding hybridity, ownership and change. I address these questions in the light of the material presented by my colleagues in which they discuss how different kinds of TSOs have engaged with the distinctive challenges posed by hybridity. Overall, the approach is to explore what might be learnt and what remains to be learnt from these studies.
David Billis
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