Online from: 2012
Subject Area: Organization Studies
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|Title:||Across the little divide? Life histories of public and third sector “boundary crossers”|
|Author(s):||David Lewis, (Department of Social Policy, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK)|
|Citation:||David Lewis, (2012) "Across the little divide? Life histories of public and third sector “boundary crossers”", Journal of Organizational Ethnography, Vol. 1 Iss: 2, pp.158 - 177|
|Keywords:||Anthropology of policy, Life history method, Non-governmental organizations, Organizational learning, Policy process, Public policy, Third sector|
|Article type:||Research paper|
|DOI:||10.1108/20466741211248831 (Permanent URL)|
|Publisher:||Emerald Group Publishing Limited|
|Acknowledgements:||This research was funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) under its Non-governmental Public Action programme (Grant Reference RES-155-25-0064). The author is especially indebted to Mike Austin at the School of Social Welfare, University of California, Berkeley for his encouragement and assistance with drawing up the typology in Table I. Alexis Halley and Amy Wrzesniewski provided very useful advice and insights on an earlier draft of this paper. Any deficiencies in the paper are of course the author's own.|
Purpose – Organizational life and policy making is increasingly conceived in terms of a “three sector” model – public, private and “third”. The purpose of this research paper is to examine a little-studied phenomenon that increasingly characterises societies in both the “developed” and the “developing” worlds. It aims to argue that these “sectors” have permeable boundaries, and that increasing numbers of activists and professionals operate across such boundaries, with important implications for policy and work.
Design/methodology/approach – The research paper reports on a set of new ethnographic life-work history data from the UK, Bangladesh and Philippines to explore experiences of people who cross between, or straddle, the third sector and the public sector.
Findings – The paper constructs a preliminary typology of boundary crosser archetypes for purposes of further analysis. This is based on motivations and levels of boundary crossing. Boundary crossing of this kind is linked with the concept of “work role transition”, and with the micro-politics of policy contention.
Practical implications – The paper concludes by suggesting that such work may offer new practical insights into strengthening the capacity of both third sector and government agencies.
Originality/value – The paper aims to be original in opening up this new topic for further discussion (and in particular problematizing the idea of sector boundaries), and through using the life history method to as part of organisational ethnography.