Organisational responses in challenging times: a case study of asylum seeker and refugee third sector organisations

Terry, Vita Lang (2017). Organisational responses in challenging times: a case study of asylum seeker and refugee third sector organisations. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

PDF - Accepted Version

Download (1MB)


Third sector organisations (TSOs) are facing multiple complex and challenging pressures from the shifting economic and political environment, undoubtedly creating an uncertain operating landscape. Although the sector encompasses a range of forms, shapes and sizes, policy and practice tend to portray the sector as homogenously experiencing and responding to the environment. This thesis undertakes in-depth case studies using a qualitative research strategy to investigate organisational change in three asylum seeker and refugee TSOs based in England. An ethnographic rationale is used to collect the data, using a range of methods, spending time immersed within the organisations, and a process of reflexivity. The research explores how organisations are affected by, and navigate, these challenging pressures, and what is happening within the organisational setting that influences the processes of organisational change. Drawing on a multi-level framework, including isomorphism, institutional logics, institutional work and emotional work, provides an insightful account of the different layers of organisational change. The case studies demonstrate significant pressures from negative immigration rhetoric and xenophobic attitudes, austerity measures, and changes in the funding environment that all fuel organisational responses. By moving on from being refugee community organisations to becoming established and formalised TSOs, each organisation further expanded into varying forms of hybrid organisation - family/professional, religious and entrepreneurial - depending on differing contextual factors and resources. Nuanced accounts grounded in empirical data are portrayed, of the challenges, tensions and dilemmas faced by the organisations whilst also illustrating the agency of actors’ responses. This not only distinguishes the heterogeneity of the sector but also demonstrates the actors’ ability to manage uncertainty through resilience and adaptability.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: School of Social Policy
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare


Request a Correction Request a Correction
View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year