Journal of Social Policy

Articles

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

HEATHER BUCKINGHAMa1

a1 Lee Abbey, Lynton, North Devon, EX35 6JJ email: heatherbuckingham@hotmail.co.uk

Abstract

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.