Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Capturing Diversity: A Typology of Third Sector Organisations’ Responses to Contracting Based on Empirical Evidence from Homelessness Services


The impacts of government contracting on third sector organisations (TSOs) have attracted much discussion; however, the diversity of the organisations that comprise the third sector means that these impacts in fact vary considerably between TSOs. In order to better understand this complexity and to analyse and articulate TSOs’ experiences more effectively, it is useful to think about different response types. Based on empirical evidence from a study of homelessness TSOs in two South East England local authorities, this paper presents a typology of organisational responses to contracting. The four types identified are: Comfortable Contractors, Compliant Contractors, Cautious Contractors, and Community-Based Non-Contractors. The varied experiences of these different types of organisation with regard to contracting are described in the paper and point to the need for greater precision and differentiation within academic debates, and in the formulation of social policy relating to the third sector.

Hide All
I. Bode (2006), ‘Disorganised welfare mixes: voluntary agencies and new governance regimes in Western Europe’, Journal of European Social Policy, 16: 4, 346–59.

H. Buckingham (2009), ‘Competition and contracts in the voluntary sector: exploring the implications for homelessness service providers in Southampton’, Policy and Politics, 37: 2, 235–54.

H. Buckingham (2011), ‘Hybridity, diversity and the division of labour in the third sector: what can we learn from homelessness organisations in the UK?’, Voluntary Sector Review, 2: 2, 157–75.

C. Chew and S. P. Osborne (2009), ‘Exploring strategic positioning in the UK charitable sector: emerging evidence from charitable organisations that provide public services’, British Journal of Management, 20: 90105.

P. Cloke , S. Johnsen and J. May (2005), ‘Exploring ethos? Discourses of “charity” in the provision of emergency services for homeless people’, Environment and Planning A, 37: 3, 385402.

P. Cloke , S. Johnsen and J. May (2007), ‘Ethical citizenship? Volunteers and the ethics of providing services for homeless people’, Geoforum, 38: 6, 1089–101.

D. Cloutier-Fisher and M. W. Skinner (2006), ‘Levelling the playing field? Exploring the implications of managed competition for voluntary sector providers of long-term care in small town Ontario’, Health and Place, 12: 1, 97109.

M. Crang (2005), ‘Analysing qualitative materials’, in R. Flowerdew and D. Martin (eds.), Methods in Human Geography, Harlow: Pearson Education.

H. R. Ebaugh , J. S. Chafetz and P. Pipes (2005), ‘Funding good works: funding sources of faith-based social service coalitions’, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 34: 4, 448–72.

A. Evers (1995), ‘Part of the welfare mix: the third sector as an intermediate area’, Voluntas, 6: 2, 159–82.

A. Evers (2005), ‘Mixed welfare systems and hybrid organizations: changes in the governance and provision of social services’, International Journal of Public Administration, 28: 9, 737–48.

H. Fear and P. Barnett (2003), ‘Holding fast: the experience of collaboration in a competitive environment’, Health Promotion International, 18: 1, 514.

N. R. Fyfe and C. Milligan (2003), ‘Space, citizenship, and voluntarism: critical reflections on the voluntary welfare sector in Glasgow’, Environment and Planning A, 35: 11, 2069–86.

H. Haugh and M. Kitson (2007), ‘The Third Way and the third sector: New Labour's economic policy and the social economy’, Cambridge Journal of Economics, 31: 6, 973–94.

S. Johnsen , P. Cloke and J. May (2005), ‘Day centres for homeless people: spaces of care or fear?’, Social and Cultural Geography, 6: 6, 787811.

W. Larner and M. Butler (2005), ‘Governmentalities of local partnerships: the rise of a “partnering state” in New Zealand’, Studies in Political Economy, 75: 85108.

J. May , P. Cloke and S. Johnsen (2005), ‘Re-phasing neoliberalism: New Labour and Britain's crisis of street homelessness’, Antipode, 37: 4, 703–30.

K. McLaughlin (2004), ‘Towards a modernized voluntary and community sector?’, Public Management Review, 6: 4, 555–62.

C. Milligan (2007), ‘Geographies of voluntarism: mapping the terrain’, Geography Compass, 1: 2, 183–99.

C. Milligan and N. R. Fyfe (2005), ‘Preserving space for volunteers: exploring the links between voluntary welfare organisations, volunteering and citizenship’, Urban Studies, 42: 3, 417–33.

D. Morris (2000), ‘Charities in the contract culture: survival of the largest?’, Legal Studies, 20: 3, 409–27.

A. Najam (2000), ‘The four-Cs of third sector-government relations: cooperation, confrontation, complementarity, and co-optation’, Nonprofit Management and Leadership, 10: 4, 375–93.

S. P. Osborne and K. McLaughlin (2004), ‘The cross-cutting review of the voluntary sector: where next for local government–voluntary sector relationships?’, Regional Studies, 38: 5, 573–82.

D. R. Young (2000), ‘Alternative models of government–nonprofit sector relations: theoretical and international perspectives’, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 29: 1, 149–72.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Social Policy
  • ISSN: 0047-2794
  • EISSN: 1469-7823
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-social-policy
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 1
Total number of PDF views: 53 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 270 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 18th October 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.