Managing value conflicts : an examination of values and value conflicts in third sector organisations in Scotland
Bond, Susan M.
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The purpose of this thesis is to provide an understanding of value conflicts and how they are managed within third sector organisations in Scotland, particularly among front-line workers. Despite existing literature acknowledging the importance of ‘values’ for third sector organisations and their employees and an external environment which increasingly puts pressures on third sector organisations to adopt characteristics and values associated with the public and private sectors (organisational hybridity), there have been limited attempts to understand how value conflicts manifest within organisations and how they are managed. Case studies were carried out in three third sector organisations in Scotland and mainly consisted of interviews with employees and managers. The research strategy was guided by Critical Realism and the broad theoretical framework utilises theories of values, Strategic Action Fields and social identity processes to understand social behaviour within third sector organisations. Specific theories of organisational hybridity, institutional logics and street-level bureaucrats help to frame the specific context and understand how value conflicts are managed. This thesis found that conflicts revolved around the competing values of ‘client-focus’ versus ‘business-orientated’ approaches, although value conflicts played out differently depending on organisational context. Front-line workers unanimously favoured a ‘clientfocused’ approach and developed a variety of strategies that helped them manage potential value conflicts. This thesis contributes to existing knowledge through highlighting the crucial role played by values in social behaviour and by identifying strategies that may be used by front-line workers to help manage potential value conflicts. This thesis also contributes to existing debates and informs existing theories through highlighting the normative aspects of human behaviour and the centrality of values in the motivations of individuals, groups and organisations.