The once and future pioneers? The innovative capacity of voluntary organisations and the provision of public services: A longitudinal approach

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Osborne, S.P.; Chew, C.; McLauchlin, K.

The prior history of voluntary and community organisations (VCOs) as pioneers of public services during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century has led to reification of the innovativeness of these organisations. Is this reification justified - are VCOs inherently innovative, or is innovation contingent on other factors? This paper reports on a longitudinal study of this capacity in England and Wales over the period 1994 - 2006. This study finds that the innovative capacity of VCOs is in fact not an inherent capacity but rather is contingent upon the public policy framework that privileges innovation above other activity of VCOs. The implications of this for theory, policy and practice are considered.

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