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The described paradox stems from a tension between two contradictory forms of control, ownership and accountability, which co-exists in these associations. The paradox is first and foremost, that member associations have formal democratic structures, that are seen as institutionalised and consequently taken for granted by members, as the natural way for a member associations to be structured (Burns & Scapens, 2000) . However, this paper argues that the democratic structure only constitutes formal control and not the full picture of effective control (Billis, 2010) . The democratic structure gives formal control and authority to certain roles in the association via general assemblies and elections, but this formal control co-exists with, and is often surpassed by, informal practices of control based on personal characteristics, interpersonal relationships, tradition and the volunteer nature of the work done.
This is initially explored and conceptualised as a tension between a rational system perspective and natural system perspective on organisations (Scott & Davis, 2007) . The rational system perspective sees member associations as formally structured and goal achievement-oriented hierarchies, where certain roles such as boards and managers have legitimate authority to control and hold others accountable towards commonly decided goals. The natural system perspective sees member associations as collectivities which are based on informal practices, where formal roles of authority do exist - but have little effective control over the organisation, and where formal decision-making bodies like general assemblies are not prioritised (or even attended) by most members in the association, despite of the supreme authority over the association it supposedly gives them.
The aim of the paper is to develop a conceptual model in which these two perspectives are seen as, at the same time, contradictive and co-existing in local level member associations. Implications of this paradox for voluntariness and management in member associations is discussed.
The authors only found few existing studies addressing the internal tensions inherent in (particularly local level) member associations. The level of democratic participation and the limits of association democracy is studied in 10 European countries by Ibsen et. al. (2019) . Hansen & Langergaard (2017) found tensions between participatory and representative democracy in a nonprofit resident democracy, Oelberger (2018) explored the balance between private and public goals in NPOs and contrasted this with goal orientation in member organisations, and identified a number of distinct organizational design characteristics related to either these internal private or wider public goals. Notably, Horch (2018) has made an important conceptual contribution to research on the organisational structure of local level associations primarily populated by volunteers. This paper seeks to contribute further to this work by focusing on the paradox described.
|Published - 2021
|The 14th conference of the International Society for Third Sector Research: Global Civil Society in Uncertain Times: Strengthening Diversity and Sustainability - Online
Duration: 12 Jul 2021 → 15 Jul 2021
Conference number: 14
|The 14th conference of the International Society for Third Sector Research
|12/07/2021 → 15/07/2021
- nonprofit organizations
- member associations
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Oplæg og workshop: Hvad motiverer frivillige og hvordan kan ansatte i samme organisation bedst arbejde sammen med dem?
Dennis Jim Frederiksen (Lecturer)10 Jun 2022
Activity: Talks and presentations › Talks and presentations in private or public companies
Dennis Jim Frederiksen (Participant)12 Jul 2021 → 15 Jul 2021
Activity: Attending an event › Conference organisation or participation