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Title: Sustainability in voluntary organisations : exploring the dynamics of organisational strategy
Author: Coule, Tracey M.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3390 2500
Awarding Body: Sheffield Hallam University
Current Institution: Sheffield Hallam University
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis aims to develop further understanding of organisational sustainability in the voluntary sector, as a complex and dynamic phenomena inextricably linked to capacity for survival. In taking a holistic approach to exploring the dynamics of sustainability, the study considers the influencing factors, both internal and external, that can drive strategic change within voluntary organisations through an extensive multi-method research programme incorporating exploratory focus groups, descriptive survey fieldwork and multiple-case studies. Specifically, the research outlines the major internal and external systems that are important for voluntary organisations to consider when developing strategies for sustainability and, perhaps more importantly, explores the interconnections between them. The thesis departs from much of the dedicated voluntary sector literature, which often adopts a rationalist prescriptive approach to organisation and management. In aiming to advance something of a more critical approach, which considers what may be termed the 'emotional' side of strategy, the study makes a key contribution to the voluntary sector strategy literature. Ultimately, the author argues that to study, govern and manage voluntary organisations involves thinking about philosophy, politics and ethics. In the context of developing strategies for sustainability, this equates to considering who says what the job is, how it should be done, and how people are affected by doing it one way rather than another. In this regard, it would appear that acceptance and legitimisation of certain (pluralist or unitary) approaches to strategy and change is associated with the coherence between that approach and the social values expressed in the organisation's service work. It is argued that there is potential for voluntary organisations to utilise the strategy process to surface, articulate and test assumptions across organisational functions and hierarchy. This is especially relevant because of the turbulent environment that many organisations in the voluntary sector face and the diversity of the many stakeholders who have an interest in the organisation's long-term ability to achieve its mission. In these circumstances, it is unlikely that those individuals at the apex of the organisation (be they trustees and/or senior management) will be able to 'figure it out from the top' and have everyone else 'following the orders'. The practical implication of the thesis is that if strategy is, at least partly, about collective purpose and shared visions of the future, trustees and managers of voluntary organisations must recognise this explicitly in the way they create strategy. Indeed, the study demonstrates how some voluntary organisations have deeply involved individuals throughout the organisation in the strategy process as a means of creating, raising and sustaining commitment to a cocreated future vision of the organisation.
Supervisor: Morgan, Gareth ; Garvey, Robert Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available