Unveiling the role(s) of informal third sector deliverers : towards a conceptual framework to understand the process of social value creation among informal third sector groups

Mashiter, C 2019, Unveiling the role(s) of informal third sector deliverers : towards a conceptual framework to understand the process of social value creation among informal third sector groups , PhD thesis, University of Salford.

Download (3MB) | Preview


This research was designed to explore the role of the informal third sector groups (ITSGs) using an alternative methodological approach to Social Return on Investment (SROI) to reconceptualise value measurement. It focused on four ITSGs in Blackpool in the North West of England, each of which, at surface level addressed different needs: The Goods Bank (provision of basic resources to those who are deprived), Healthy Minds (individuals who came together around their mental health difficulties/issues), Social Risers (a social group for older individuals) and Crafty Club (an arts and craft group). Relatively free from the constricting political relationships of the ‘formal’ third sector deliverers, these community-led groups appear to support individual well-being in a variety of ways. However, ITSGs are generally located on the periphery of political and economic consciousness, perhaps due to their informal nature, financial standing, and/or reliance on alternative forms of capital. Measurement of the social value of these ‘smaller’ groups is predominantly anecdotal and their contribution to society is often hidden within the roles of formal providers. Social Return on Investment (SROI) is one of the most widely advocated frameworks for calculating an organisation’s social value. Despite its widespread application to larger third sector groups, there has been limited consideration of its use in exploring the role of the informal third sector. This is despite a context in which the role of these groups has, arguably, become more important; amid shifting socio-economic and political strategies that seek to meet the demands of the welfare state, the UK’s public sector has sought external service delivery agents in various working relationship models. From Conservatives’ privatisation to New Labour’s ‘third way’; the third sector has been coerced into delivering services and addressing the deficits in welfare provision. In Blackpool, as in numerous local authorities across the country, there have been increasing attempts to seek new increasingly formalised models of working with the third sector, yet little is known of the potential repercussions of this shift, particularly on ITSGs. Existing literature advocates the importance of knowing what exists; this study proposes that is of greater importance to examine the how ITSGs contribute to their beneficiaries. This may increase awareness of the ways in which external pressures and policies might be impacting their roles. An ethnographically-driven abductive approach was adopted to focus on the narratives of participants. As the research progressed it became increasingly evident that SROI was inadequate to the task of assessing the value of the groups; focused on the outcome of an activity, it assumes beneficiaries are aware of, and can enunciate value. A fundamental issue rarely considered in literature, was the lack of attention to the enabling and process factors that contribute to value and how it may be recognised by the participants. An alternative enabling, process and outcome values (EPOV) approach was developed to reconceptualise value measurement. The approach considers how the beneficiaries, as individual participants and groups, make sense of and experience value and thus develop understanding of the role of these groups. This recognises the importance of a value ‘enabler’ to encourage self-reflection and observe the range of value perspectives. The research contributes to the generation of original knowledge through development of the EPOV methodological approach, and in terms of its application to the subject. The research findings have application for understanding how political and strategic developments may impact ITSGs; the EPOV approach to data collection and analysis is one way of capturing the values as expressed by the direct beneficiaries and has application beyond ITSGs in developing impact evaluation for the wider sector. Further areas of research are suggested including a comparative study using the EPOV approach with formal and informal third sector groups delivering similar activities to those of the groups in this research.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Schools: Schools > School of the Built Environment
Depositing User: claire Mashiter
Date Deposited: 03 Jul 2019 12:50
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2021 13:41
URI: https://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/51293

Actions (login required)

Edit record (repository staff only) Edit record (repository staff only)


Downloads per month over past year