International studies on civil society organizations (CSOs) highlight how CSO's relation to the public sector is central to the characteristics of organizational change. This article contributes to this line of research in two ways. Firstly it explores how Swedish CSOs, involved with social services, are affected by proximity to and dependence on the public sector for their strategies of organizational evaluation. Based on a survey we investigate whether organizations' evaluation practices can be understood as the result of institutional pressure defined by a dominating public sector. The focus on evaluation practices is motivated by assumptions that evaluation principles based on public institutional logic, i.e. cost-effectiveness, evidence-based practice and competition, may threaten the integrity of organizations; by adapting evaluation standards defined by the public sector, particular characteristics and independence of CSOs are put at risks.
Secondly, the study contributes to scholarly debates concerning theoretical assumptions that resource dependence, contract-based and legislation-based coercive relations affect the evaluation strategies employed by CSOs. The analysis confirms the assumption that producing services in policy areas with legislation affects evaluation practice, but rejects assumptions that suggest similar influence based on resource dependence (except for regional funding) and contractual-based relations. The results lead us to examine how relations between CSOs and the public sector are ideally understood as encompassing both instrumental and intrinsic values. This knowledge is valuable for our understanding of the Swedish context. The fact that some of the study's assumptions are not supported, can be interpreted as an expression of a relationship between CSOs and the public sector that is characterized by mutual understanding, rather than power asymmetry that follows resource-dependency and contractual relationships. The study also contributes to scholarly debates on the impact of institutional pressure on CSOs, as it encourages a more detailed picture of the dimensions of institutional pressure as including historical as well as legislative and time-based contractual relationships.
|Number of pages||24|
|Publication status||Published - 2020 Dec 8|