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Fragmented outcomes : international comparisons of gender, managerialism and union strategies in the nonprofit sector

Baines, Donna and Charlesworth, Sara and Cunningham, Ian (2014) Fragmented outcomes : international comparisons of gender, managerialism and union strategies in the nonprofit sector. Journal of Industrial Relations, 56 (1). pp. 24-42. ISSN 0022-1856

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Abstract

Since the mid-1980s, the nonprofit social services sector has been promoted as an option for cheaper and more flexible delivery of services. In order to comply with government standards and funding requirements, the sector has been subject to ongoing waves of restructuring and the introduction of new private market-like, outcomes-based management models, such as New Public Management. This article explores ways in which nonprofit social services sector workers experience their work as highly fragmented. Drawing on case studies completed as part of a larger project addressing restructuring in the nonprofit social services sector in Scotland, New Zealand, Australia and Canada, we examine three key aspects shaping work in the nonprofit social services sector: 1) workers’ experience of managerialism; 2) gendered strategies drawn on by workers in the agencies studied; and 3) union strategies in the nonprofit social services sector, as well as within individual workplaces. Conclusions focus on contributions to understanding managerialism as a strong but fragmented project in which even weak union presence and the willingness of the predominantly female workforce to sacrifice to provide care for others ensure that some level of social solidarity endures.