The Once and future pioneers? : the role of voluntary organizations in innovation in the personal social services

  • Stephen P. Osborne

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis explores the innovative capacity of voluntary organizations in the field of the personal social services. It commences with a full literature review, which concludes that the wealth of research upon innovation in the organization studies field has not addressed this topic, whilst the specialist literatures upon voluntary organizations and upon the personal social services have neglected the study of innovation. The research contained in this thesis is intended to right this neglect and to integrate lessons from both fields. It combines a survey of the innovative activity of voluntary organizations in three localities with cross-sectional case studies of innovative, developmental and traditional organizations. The research concludes
that innovation is an important, but not integral, characteristic of voluntary organizations. It develops a contingent model of this innovative capacity of voluntary organizations, which stresses the role of external environmental and institutional forces in shaping and releasing this capacity. It concludes by considering the contribution of this model both to organization studies and to the study of voluntary
Date of AwardNov 1995
Original languageEnglish


  • innovation
  • management
  • voluntary and non-profit organizations
  • social policy
  • organization studies

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