Individualism, egalitarianism, hierarchy and fatalism in London housing associations, 1988-2003 : a study of housing management and cultural change
This thesis investigates management change in housing associations in London since the Housing Act of 1988. Previous work on housing management has tended to focus on the adoption of new public management principles, assuming that policy from 1988 has resulted in a cultural shift towards individualism. This study makes use of 'grid-group' cultural theory to challenge this assumption by tracking all four 'cultures' within housing association management: egalitarianism, hierarchalism and fatalism as well as individualism. As a detailed qualitative analysis of the voluntary housing sector, it addresses a neglected field of study within public policy. London provides rich ground for analysis of cultural change in the voluntary housing sector. It has a higher concentration of housing associations than any other UK city, it is where most of the larger housing organisations originated and it is the site of the greatest development activity throughout the period. London housing associations encapsulate all the significant changes in housing management resulting from the reforms of the 1980s. Whilst the study finds evidence of individualistic philosophy, particularly amongst senior housing association managers, it also finds evidence of egalitarianism, hierarchalism and fatalism. Egalitarianism remains as the legacy of housing associations' historical origins and organisational structures. Hierarchy results from an increasingly dominant role for a small number of large, elite organisations, which become more hierarchical as they grow. Fatalism has emerged as a prevalent ethos amongst front-line staff, reflected and reinforced by the increasingly negative experience of residents. The thesis reveals how, contrary to the expectations of the 1988 Act, an overall shift 'up-grid' towards hierarchalism and fatalism emerged as the most significant response.