Management of non-profit social service organisations in Aotearoa New Zealand
Thesis DisciplineSocial Work
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
Non-profit social service organisations make a significant economic and social contribution to Aotearoa New Zealand societies. Despite their growing significance and reach, non-profit organisations (NPOs) have been facing significant operational challenges over the past decade as a result of the contract model of funding for service delivery that is informed by a neoliberal ideology and new public management techniques. These operational challenges are mainly related to their finance, service delivery, governance boards and human resources. Additionally, there is uncertainty around how NPOs manage their commitment to te Tiriti o Waitangi / the Treaty of Waitangi. Although these concerns have remained the same over the past decade and are still growing, there is still no research evidence available on how NPOs manage these challenges. Due to the dearth of research, it is also not clear whether these organisations face these challenges due to a lack of proper management of these organisational elements. The survival of NPOs depends on how well they are managed, and the need for competent management of NPOs has never been greater in the midst of funding uncertainties. However, how NPOs in Aotearoa New Zealand manage their board, service delivery, human resources and finance remains a mystery because of the lack of research in this area. Therefore, the overall purpose of this research is to develop an understanding of how well non-profit social service organisations manage their board, service delivery, human resources and finance, and their commitment to te Tiriti o Waitangi.
A quantitative research methodology using a cross-sectional survey design informed by positivist epistemology and objectivist ontology was adopted as the overarching research strategy for this project. Data were collected from 65 NPOs in Aotearoa New Zealand through a cross-sectional anonymous survey that assessed their management of the board, service delivery, human resources and finance. Using systems thinking as a conceptual framework, this research also investigated the relationship between the management of organisational elements. The results indicated that the NPOs demonstrated a borderline practice in all four areas of management, resulting in the organisations carrying a medium risk. The non-Māori NPOs also struggled with maintaining their commitment to te Tiriti o Waitangi. The results also suggested that the relationship between the management of various organisational elements is a matter of comparison rather than given because of their organisational identity. The discussion shows that NPOs need to engage in assessing their management practices and being critically reflective learning organisations to improve their management practices. A non-profit management self-assessment tool was developed for NPOs to use as a potential self-assessment tool. Because the results also demonstrated that the relationship between organisational elements is a matter of comparison due to the stark differences found between Māori and non-Māori organisations, a reconceptualisation of systems thinking is necessary to consider these differences and the complex multilayered environmental context in which NPO management takes place. Accordingly, an ecosystem management model was recommended for practitioners and researchers as a conceptual framework to further the enquiries on non-profit management.