The impact of governmental policy on the effective operation of CSOs: a French case study

Damien Mourey, Philippe Eynaud, Carolyn J. Cordery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Worldwide, civil society organizations (CSOs) are an integral compo- nent in the complex network that comprises the public sphere improving the welfare of our communities. In the second half of the twentieth century French CSOs’ contributions to their citizens’ welfare have become increasingly valued. Nevertheless, radical changes to employment policies during the Sarkozy regime (2007–2012) impacted social services to unemployed migrants. In addition, central government constrained local governments’ ability to fund social ser- vices, pushing a shift from a culture of “granting subsidies” to one based on “public procurement contracting” (Langlais 2008). These environmental changes are likely to transform CSO-government relationships. This research asks two questions: what is the impact of such radical changes and what possible responses can organizations make, if they are to survive? To answer these, we utilize a case study of a French CSO (Association), which is highly dependent on public funding to deliver its urban-based migrant pro- grams. We utilize the lens of resource dependency, focusing on the interrelation-ships and interactions that impact CSOs’ legitimacy and support. Effects of the reforms include a change from relatively cooperative relationships with govern- ment to adversarial exchanges. Moreover, this CSO’s activities are apprehended by public funders as short-term single projects considered in isolation from one another so that its overall outcomes are not quantitatively measured. As a result, the CSO’s overarching and long-term social and economic contribution to the territory’s public sphere is in jeopardy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-193
JournalNonprofit Policy Forum
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

©2014 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin / Boston. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0


  • civil society organizations
  • urban-based migrant programs
  • public procurement contracting
  • evaluation
  • professionalization


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