Constructing non-profit collaboration: a macro discursive institutional perspective

WATTS, Joanne (2022). Constructing non-profit collaboration: a macro discursive institutional perspective. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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This thesis takes the theoretical lens of Discursive Institutionalism (DI) to explore and explain the construction of non-profit collaboration in the UK. It is underpinned by an original discursive approach that renders the abstract concept of DI empirically applicable through the creation of a methodological framework. By taking a national or macro level perspective, the framework is subsequently used to explore two interrelated strands of inquiry; the temporal construction of non-profit collaboration in policy documents and the responding construction of collaboration in non-profit representative organisations (NPROs) documents. The DI framework is incorporated into a discursive methodology centred around a granular and recursive interrogation of 35 policy documents and 12 non-profit representatives’ documents, collectively totalling 2294 pages. The findings explore how collaboration as a construct is set out in policy and demarcate the evolving construction of collaboration revealing how the concept of NPO collaboration is catalysed (1997- 2001), elevated (2001-2005), embedded (2005 - 2010), cast as empowered (2010 - 2015) and entrenched (2015 - 2019). The research creates temporal breadth, extending the linear representation prevalent in literature through detailed and nuanced explanation of what policy ideas do to frame the nature of NPO collaboration. The focus on NPROs adds a further dimension in explaining the construction of collaboration. Overlooked in extant literature, the thesis exposes their unique characteristics revealing how they persuade, challenge or make assumptions related to the nature and purpose of NPO collaboration. Collectively, the findings make three original, interrelated contributions to knowledge. The first, the creation of the framework that extends DI theory, through the inception of a practical tool, crafted as part of a discursive methodology. This fills a gap in literature by providing a strong empirical example. Secondly, the application of the framework exhibits the overlapping ideas that construct collaboration in policy documents between 1997-2019. This illuminates the subtle ways in which it becomes an entrenched and expected way of organising in NPOs. Thirdly, the study provides a rare example of the distinct ways that NPROs construct collaboration in their documents. This sits in contrast ii to the notion of NPROs as compliant and supportive of policy agendas of collaboration. Combined, these insights demonstrate the dynamic multifaceted ideas that construct NPO collaboration. These findings are important in light of the central function that NPOs play in delivering welfare services. Collaboration matters as NPOs collectively respond to challenging and entrenched societal problems. Given this argument, the thesis is relevant to policy makers, NPOs, NPROs and scholars interested in the construction of organisational phenomena.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Bennett, Ellen [0000-0003-3271-8757]
Thesis advisor - Bennett, Anthony [0000-0001-7082-2585]
Thesis advisor - Patmore, Beth
Additional Information: Director of studies: Ellen Bennett / Supervisors: Tony Bennett and Beth Patmore
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 22 Sep 2022 15:45
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2023 15:01

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