School of Social and Political Sciences - Research Publications

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    Governance, Boards of Directors and the Impact of Contracting on Not-for-profit Organizations - An Australian Study
    Considine, M ; O'Sullivan, S ; Phuc, N (WILEY-BLACKWELL, 2014-04-01)
    This article investigates strategic changes in the governance of not-for-profit (NFP) boards in response to Australia’s fully contracted employment services system. Of interest are changes in board demography, behaviour, procedures and dynamics, with special attention to the impact of those changes on boards’ identity as a representation of community interests. As Australia is in the vanguard of social service contracting, the Australian experience affords insight into the impact of contracting upon the identity of the NFP sector. We find that NFP directors operating in this quasi-market have come to define board ‘professionalism’ as the main strategic move to accommodate the increasingly commercial and competitive nature of contracting. Boards have adopted a more business-like view of how their agency should operate, changed their board’s skill set and utilized strategic recruitment processes, including selecting new board members based on perceived skill deficiencies of the current board and paying board members for their service. NFP boards have also introduced more comprehensive induction, training and evaluation systems. These findings provide Australian policymakers with evidence of the cultural impact of service delivery reforms on NFP agencies. They also afford leaders of NFPs an opportunity to reflect on important changes in the governance of their organizations, including the potential for ‘mission drift’ and loss of local forms of legitimacy.
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    New public management and welfare-to-work in Australia: Comparing the reform agendas of the ALP and the Coalition
    Considine, M ; O'Sullivan, S ; Phuc, N (Taylor & Francis (Routledge), 2014-09-01)
    Since the 1990s, the adoption of new public management (NPM) as a management philosophy has translated into multiple waves of reform in the employment services sector in Australia, namely Working Nation (1994–96), Job Network (JN: 1996–2009) and Job Services Australia (JSA: 2009–present). Each wave has sought to improve the preceding policy. In this article, we examine changes implemented during the Rudd/Gillard Labor governments. Using government policy documents and survey data from frontline employment services staff, we compare JSA to JN against five benchmarks. Our data indicate that JSA has generated modest improvement. JSA is also a system with less emphasis on strong forms of sanctioning. Our combined data suggest that policy actors operating under NPM conditions are indeed able to influence specific aspects of frontline practice, but they must spend great effort to do so and must accept new imperfections as a consequence.
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    Mission-drift? The Third Sector and the pressure to be business-like: Evidence from Job Services Australia
    Considine, M ; O'Sullivan, SB ; Nguyen, (Australian and New Zealand Third Sector Research, 2014)
    Becoming more businesslike is seen by many not-for-profit (NFP) agencies as necessary for survival, if not expansion, under the conditions required by New Public Management (NPM). Charged with delivering social services in a competitive environment, NFP agencies must often compete with each other, and with for-profit (FP) organisations, in order to obtain and retain government contracts. While some things are known about why NFP agencies emulate FPs, and the means by which they do so, little is known about whether adopting a more businesslike approach yields benefits. In this study we compare attitudes to profit maximisation against other client-oriented goals among NFP agencies delivering contracted employment services in Australia. We find that profit-maximising attitudes have increased dramatically between 1998 and 2012. Yet despite this, we find no correlation between a profit-orientated disposition and the rate at which services improve for clients. We conclude that while becoming more businesslike might be beneficial for a host of reasons, it does not appear to help agencies meet their key performance indicator: achieving positive outcomes for those they seek to serve.
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    From Entitlement to Experiment: The new governance of welfare to work - Australian Report back to Industry Partners
    Lewis, J ; Considine, M ; O'Sullivan, S ; Nguyen, P ; Mcgann, M (University of Melbourne, 2016-10-01)
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    Increasing Innovation and Flexibility in Social Service Delivery. Report Back to Australian Industry
    Considine, M ; O'Sullivan, SB ; Nguyen, PT ; F, (University of Melbourne, Political Science Department, 2013)