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Exploring the tensions between organisational ethos and stakeholder demand: A case study

Exploring the tensions between organisational ethos and stakeholder demand: A case study of a community ‘arts and health’ social enterprise

PhD researcher's name: Peter Swan

University/Supervisors: Durham (Sarah Atkinson; Sarah Curtis)

Partner organisation: Pioneer Projects

Impact highlights: Publication of two journal articles; presentations at several seminars and academic conferences; development of personal capacities and expertise to understand how third sector organisations operate

This PhD thesis explored the tensions between the ethos and values of third sector organisations and the environment within which they operate, investigating how organisations can absorb, resist and negotiate any challenges to their way of working. While this project was a case study of a single organisation, many other third sector organisations experience similar challenges, concerns, and dilemmas, with the findings of this project thus having relevance for the third sector as a whole.

Peter has greatly benefitted from the CASE Studentship in a number of ways:

  • Peter has authored and co-authored two journal articles and he is currently working on others:
    - Swan, P. (2013) Promoting social inclusion through community artsMental Health and Social Inclusion, 17: 19-26
    - Swan, P., and Atkinson, S. (2012) Managing evaluation: a community arts organisation's perspective. Arts & Health, 4: 217-229
  • He has also presented in more than 10 seminars and conferences including:
    - ISIRC International Social Innovation Research Conference, 2012 (Durham University); 2013 (Oxford University)
    - Social Enterprise, Social Innovation and Care conference, 2013(Durham University)
    Understanding Human Flourishing: A Postgraduate Medical Humanities Conference, 2013 (Durham University)
  • Close partnership working with the partner organisation and one-year placement provided Peter a better understanding of how third sector organisations actually operate, and the various challenges that they face on a daily basis.
  • As a participant observant the student was able to experience the organisation's ethos for himself, and was encouraged to try out new creative activities, some of which he has continued to engage with to this day. Peter continues in regular contact with the partner organisation and visits from personal interest.

The supervisors also benefitted from this CASE Studentship:

  • Peter and his supervisor co-authored a paper which was published on Arts and Health journal (see above)

The partner organisation also benefitted from this CASE studentship:

  • Through his PhD work, Peter was able to suggest ways that the organisation can make difficult or necessary changes whilst maintaining organisation legitimacy to beneficiaries. His advice was taking on board by the organisations leading to incremental improvements.
  • Peter assisted with a successful funding bid through his ability to access academic journals and obtain evidence for the ways in which arts and health projects can help to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness.
  • He also took a number of photographs for the organisation – many of which are currently being used on their website. Pioneer Projects even paid him to take and edit photographs of a carnival in summer 2012.

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