My dissertation research is a collection thesis and investigates what business/market entails for third sector organisations, its opportunities, challenges and implications. Due to the increasing scarcity of funding (hence increased competition for funding) many NPOs and NGOs are obliged to look at and/or adopt market solutions as an alternative or supplementary way of accessing resources. The field work that involves three organizations in Sweden and two organizations in South Africa have been completed as of Spring 2017, however additional interviews will be carried out whenever necessary. Most of the cases show influences of market logics, although in varied degrees. This phenomenon is relevant and interesting in many respects as nonprofit organisations are premised on achieving social mission, not market goals.
My first case Skyddsvärnet is over a century old Swedish nonprofit organization working to prevent social exclusion and create better conditions for people in society. Skyddsvärnet was left with no choice but to embrace the market arena since their state funding ceased in the 1990s. The findings indicate that both market and mission logics have equal importance for Skyddsvärnet, but the greater salience towards market logic is shaping the organization into becoming more business-like.
Afrikagrupperna, a solidarity NGO, is my second case. Afrikagrupperna partners with organizations in Southern Africa that work so that people could access their rights. Despite being a SIDA framework organization (or precisely because of it), Afrikagrupperna acknowledges their funding vulnerability and has tried to find ways to diversify funding resources (more recently through fundraising) that is causing some tension. Afrikagrupperna's two partner organizations in South Africa, Wellness Foundation (WF) and Surplus People Project (SPP) are sub-cases which I visited in April 2017. WF works with advocacy especially for the rights of thousands of care workers (a female-dominated occupation) who provide primary health care for the communities but are not recognized as workers, thereby not accorded the rights that other laborers enjoy. SPP works with poor farmers and advocates for their rights. The target groups for both organizations are usually from poor communities and live in the so-called townships. Funding challenges are more prominent in the case of WF that made them venture in a social enterprise that has not so far yielded the targeted results.
My third case and paper involves an NGO working to combat poverty and exclusion through aid, fair trade and integration. Especially interesting with this case is the organization's efforts to promote fair trade by selling fair trade products through volunteer-manned stores across Sweden. The organization aims to help small producers (buy giving them support and buying their products) and to sell these products in a highly competitive Swedish market. One of the challenges that the organization faces is how to increase sales while staying attuned to what the organization as an NGO is supposed to be about.
The fourth paper is a comparative study of all the above cases through which I hope to obtain a more general insight as to how the scarcity of funding and hence the increasing 'marketization' of the sector is manifested in the individual and group/organizational level. Through this paper, it is also anticipated that we as part of the society (regardless of country) would get an understanding as to why certain types or forms of organizing are more malleable to being able to generate own income, and why others that are not able to do so should be (or should not be) jointly funded by us, community members and taxpayers.
Conducting fieldworks both in Sweden and South Africa and attending EGOS 2017 have been possible through grants from Handelskammaren and Stiftelsen Landshövding Per Westlings minnesfond.
More recently, I have received a research grant from EU (EUROSA) that allows me to again visit South Africa at the end of 2017 for around 7 months. During this research period, I will primarily work on my research project and partly to network with my academic host at University of Stellenbosh Business School, who have kindly invited me to join their team in developing a course on NPO Governance and Leadership Qualification, and a project on Social Impact Measurement Matrix. I very much look forward to this experience and learn from the South African context and be able to hopefully design a similar course in Sweden, in cooperation with colleagues within academia and Swedish CSOs that have expressed strong interest in developing a formal education for the nonprofit sector. I very much welcome various organizations and actors who see its value and would like to support this endeavour.
Apart from research, I have had teaching duties in different courses both in the Bachelor and Master levels; and shall resume teaching by Fall 2018.
Prior to my PhD studies at Lund University I have worked in different organizations (university, NGO, cruise industry, hotel industry, court of law) in different roles (among others as research consultant, internal evaluator, language teacher, personnel manager, food and beverage secretary, court stenographer). As research consultant I have worked with and written reports and what I found most interesting was how a good number of organizations especially the smaller ones with limited resources, were pressured and struggling to account for what they were doing and to measure impact.
Social Return on Investment (SROI) is a product of an attempt to find methodologies to measure results or impact which I looked at in the report: SROI, rooms for improvement and research; available here: