Voluntary and community organizations and their changing role in interorganizational relations
Mandell, Myrna & Keast, Robyn (2008) Voluntary and community organizations and their changing role in interorganizational relations. In Cropper, Steve, Ebers, Mark, Huxham, Chris, & Ring, Peter Smith (Eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Inter-Organizational Relations. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 176-201.
The community and voluntary sector sits alongside the state sector and the private sector. As such, it is sometimes referred to as the 'third sector'. Organizations within this sector play a number of important and active roles in society. For instance, they may focus on:
• providing services to strengthen communities;
• mutual aid and self-help for members of organizations;
• policy advocacy or campaigning;
• advocacy on behalf of individuals, and;
• expressing and fostering culture and identity.
Some of these roles are either relatively new or have changed over the years. Many of them involve different types of interorganizational relations (IORs). For instance, as an advocate for change on behalf of their constituents, voluntary and community organizations (VCOs) have often formed coalitions involving a number of VCOs working together. In their role as a service provider, they have always relied on other organizations, to some extent, in terms of funding their programs. This is especially true in terms of their relationships with government agencies and/or foundations. In addition, they have often worked together with each other in order to better serve their clients. More recently, in terms of their relationships with government, they have become involved in a more active role, one in which they work alongside government agencies and other stakeholders in new forms of collaborations.
While IORs are often presented as new and innovative measures it is important to be aware that interorganizational relationships and arrangements between voluntary sector organizations as well as with government have been a common feature of service delivery within this arena. Indeed, most if not all of the countries explored in this chapter (for example, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom and USA) have long histories of interaction between organizations and sectors in the delivery of services and to a lesser extent the development of policy (Brinkerhoff, J. 2002; Brown and Keast 2005; Lyn 1980; Najam 2000; Perri 6 1994, 1997; Quiggan 1999).
In this chapter we highlight the changing role of VCOs, with an emphasis on their role as a partner with government and others. In unpacking the changing relationships between VCOs and key stakeholders, we draw on extant literature including a suite of case studies undertaken across a number of sectors and from a range of disciplines including public administration, community and urban development, and integrated service delivery.
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