Third Sector Futures Dialogues hosted by TSRCA strategic lead for the third sector?Some may lead but not all will ever follow… Rob Macmillan and Heather Buckingham Third Sector Research Centre University of Birmingham 14th February 2013
About ‘Third Sector Futures’ Five headline issues: 1.The worst of times? 2.No longer a ‘voluntary’ sector? 3.Is the third sector so special? What is it worth? 4.Is the third sector being overwhelmed by the state and the market? 5.A strategic lead for the third sector? Process: •Discussion papers, on line discussion and seminars – – Guardian Q&A 19th •Sounding board and further feedback •Autumn 2012 to Spring 2013 •http://thirdsectorfutures.org.uk/ •Please join the discussion!
Key themes: leadership across diversity• A single sector? – conceptually and politically• Diversity and hybridity – fractures and fuzzy edges• ‘Hyperactive mainstreaming’ and a ‘strategic unity’• Overlapping fields - a fragile and fragmented alliance• Other players in the field….• Leadership in/of the sector – and the power of narrative
Emerging perspectives from research onnational third sector leadershipSome concerns…• Is it possible to speak for such a diverse sector?• London/SE bias in national leadership• Field specific leadership more important than sectoral leadershipBut…• Important role for national leadership in speaking into policy and public debates on behalf of TSOs: – Local TSOs lack time and resources to influence policy – Risk of self-censorship due to funding relationships
Emerging perspectives from research onnational third sector leadershipConsequently, representation and legitimacy need to be takenseriously…•Varied strategies and claims about representation (e.g.membership organisations)•Representation vs. principle/value -based leadership•Importance of character and experiences of leaders•Role of accountability and resonance
Strength in numbers: a new basis forthird sector leadership in difficult times?• Strategic advantages of ‘third sector’ label under New Labour• Will the sectoral narrative/identity dissipate as opportunities to engage with and access resources from state diminish?• Or could a new basis for agreement be found, around shared priorities amidst diversity: – Promoting wellbeing and social justice – Speaking truth to power
Questions for discussion1. Might an increasingly fragmented sector lose its political influence when arguably it is even more necessary?2. Was the third sector’s apparent ‘strategic unity’ a product of the Labour government’s policy and financial commitment to the sector?3. Without that commitment and support has the need for such a ‘strategic unity’ now disappeared, or has it intensified?4. To what extent does the sector need a leadership that is given authority by leaders’ values, knowledge and experience, compared with a leadership supported more by democratic mandate?5. Is there a London bias in third sector leadership – and does it matter?6. Should leaders base their views on evidence about the contribution of the sector, or should they be promoting sector values?7. Are existing leadership structures and sources of legitimacy in the sector fit for purpose, or do we now need something different?