The marketisation of charitable organisations in social development : a thesis submitted to Massey University in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Development Studies

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Massey University
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There has been significant change in charitable organisations in Aotearoa/ New Zealand since 1984 when government introduced a form of neo-liberal “new public management”. Research into the impact of these changes has focused on the broader voluntary or third sector and on the specific impact of contracting on particular aspects of change. This thesis explores the systemic marketising nature of neo-liberal change on charitable organisations engaged in social development and argues that the particular characteristics of charitable organisations are being changed by the encroachment of values and operating practices of the market. The thesis uses critical realist ontology to understand the holistic nature of these changes. The literature review identifies characteristics of charitable organisations, markets and government and the emergent, hybridising nature of the dependence of charitable organisations in Aotearoa/New Zealand on government funding. The findings are drawn from case studies of three charitable organisations which were very different in size, structure, focus and stage of development. The case studies included interviews with leaders in governance and management whose involvement collectively spanned the twenty five years between 1985 and 2010 covered by the research. The findings show significant change in charitable sector characteristics by 2010 and a strong influence of the market on the changes in all three organisations. While at least two of the organisations can be described as social enterprises, they lack some characteristics of market organisations which would define them as businesses and they continue to identify themselves as charitable organisations. However, the extent of marketisation calls into question the ability of the three organisations to address some needs of those with whom they work and to play an effective role as civil society organisations. The research questions the existing concept of mission drift as simply the inability of an organisation to meet its stated mission and suggests that the mission of an organisation is not only captured in organisational goals but also in its characteristics which define the organisation’s approach to its work.
Charities, New Zealand, Charitable organisations, Social development, Marketisation