Third sector employment and training initiatives : an analysis of institutional influences on success and failure
This thesis presents a multi-scalar analysis of the institutional influences upon Third Sector Employment and Training Initiatives (TSEIs) which have become de rigueur as a response to the seemingly intractable unemployment problems of many localities in the UK. To address the efficacy of third sector initiatives in the development of local economies, previous evaluations have attempted to define the features of 'best practice' initiatives in the UK. However, such analyses focus upon the internal organisation of TSEIs and are biased towards what are regarded as successful organisations while neglecting the impacts of failure. Consequently, this thesis addresses the institutional influences upon TSEIs within a comparative analysis of successful and failing initiatives, while recognising that 'success' and 'failure' are relative rather than absolute concepts. The thesis combines approaches from the social sciences in order to create an informed theoretical basis which is able to incorporate broader explanatory issues of social change and structure that are explored through empirical study. An approach is therefore applied which emphasises the multiple scales at which theories operate, from the essentially grand meta-theories of the regulation approach to the more locally contingent theories of governance and institutions. This subsequently informs the debate into changes in economic, social, political and governance structures which affect labour markets and job creation strategies in the UK. The thesis suggests a number of common factors which influence the development of TSEIs, allied to a number of specific factors which are related to the aims of particular initiatives. The need for flexibility within frameworks leads to a conceptualisation of the key organisational factor influencing TSEIs as Structured Flexibility. From this, I suggest a number of policy directions which ought to facilitate the third sector’s attempts to develop local economic growth.