‘Below the radar’ in ‘Real Times’: early findings from the qualitative longitudinal study Rob Macmillan and Andri Soteri-Proctor Third Sector Research Centre, University of Birmingham ‘Below the radar’ reference group meeting 13th Sept 2010
‘Real Times’: TSRC’s qualitative longitudinal studyA prospective longitudinal case study designOverall purpose: Understanding how third sector activity operates in practice over time• What happens within third sector organisations (TSOs) over time and why?• What matters to TSOs over time and why?• How might we understand continuity and change in third sector activity?
Overarching research questions Fortunes Strategies What influences the fortunes of TSOs? How do TSOs regard and negotiate the How do TSOs judge their fortunes? environments in which they operate? Challenges Performance What challenges do TSOs face? How is the ‘performance’ of TSOs How do TSOs respond? understood by different stakeholders? How can we understand the achievements of TSOs?
Potential research themesAspects of third sector activity we may need to explore:Mainly inside third sector activities• Purpose and mission; values, consensus and conflict• People: turnover, succession, trajectories, class, ethnicity and gender• Governance and accountabilities• Funding and finance, sustainability and resilienceMainly outside and around third sector activities• Access to support and capacity building• Inter-organisational relationships: competition and collaboration• ‘Success’, impact, legitimacy and regard• Participation in policy, independence
How the research is structured16 core cases +3 ‘complementary cases’ for each core caseRecruitment phasePhase 1 – Spring 10Phase 2 – Autumn 10Phase 3 – Spring 11Phase 4 – Autumn 11Phase 5 – Spring 12Phase 6 – Autumn 12Project end – Aug 13
Selecting for diversity• Organisation size – from the very large to the very small• Geographical scale – National (3), Regional (1), Sub-regional (4), District (3), Sub-district (5)• Regions – WM (4), NW (3), Lon (2), EM (2), SW (1), EE (1) + 3 ‘nationals’• Geographical context – Urban/rural & affluence/deprivation• Function – service delivery; community-based activity; enthusiasms; campaigning• Policy field – employment services, housing, mental health, family support, community development
Below the radar in Real TimesFour of sixteen core cases of particular interest for the ‘Below the radar’work-stream – two ‘hubs’ and two villages:•M: a community centre in a deprived urban area in the North•P: a resource centre serving a multi-cultural community in the Midlands•L: a relatively deprived village in the North•S: a relatively affluent village in the South West
Remarkable things... (1 of 2)L: community activities in a relatively deprived village (North)•successful first 18 months for community-run charity shop and cafe (no business support or plan, and limited start-up funds)•brown hair turning greyS: community activities in a relatively affluent village (South West)•an action group taking forward the Parish Plan’s ‘quick wins’•doubts and debates about the viability of the village hall•geography, class and Parish Councils•connections - support networks and historical legacies•digging deeper...
Remarkable things... (2 of 2)M: community centre (North)• LA centre becomes a charity in the 90s to prevent closure• Ongoing tensions between key managers about future direction...• Seen as “stuck in treacle” with potential loss of LA fundingP: resource centre (Midlands)• Originally supported by a multi-million pound body• first year running as an independent charity• Obtains small amounts of funding to do its usual work...
For discussion Given the opportunity to examine small, informal and grassroots third sector activities longitudinally.... ....what aspects, issues and concerns might be worth exploring over time as the ‘Real Times’ study unfolds?