Change in third sector organisations: the impact of European Union funding in cross-national perspective

  • Hans Schlappa

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This is a study of third sector organisations and organisational change resulting from European Union funding. While there is a growing body of research which shows how governmental funding can contribute to the organisational challenges that third sector organisations encounter, research on how European Union funding affects third sector organisations is limited. This thesis contributes towards closing this gap in knowledge by identifying a number of organisational changes which can be attributed to the use of European Union funding.
A qualitative approach was taken to explore organisational change resulting from the use of URBAN II funding in nine third sector organisations which were studied in the context of the URBAN II programmes of Belfast, Berlin and Bristol. The conceptual framework for this study draws on organisation theory and resource dependence theory, together with concepts of co-production and multi-level governance.
URBAN II funding was found to have affected organisational structures, processes,
services, goals and participants, as well as the interactions of organisations with their external environment. In contrast to earlier research however, the findings from this study suggest that many of these organisational changes improved the capacity of third sector organisations to carry out their work. The cross-national comparison of the findings further showed that organisational impacts resulting from the use of URBAN II funding can vary significantly between different countries.
Programme Managers were found to have played a critically important' role in enabling third sector organisations to obtain benefits from URBAN II funding. Many positive organisational changes arose from a close collaboration between Programme Managers and third sector organisations. Conversely, many negative organisational impacts were found to be due, not to the regulations associated with European funding, but primarily to the approach adopted by the Programme Managers and Local Development Partnerships towards engaging third sector organisations in programme delivery.
Date of AwardDec 2009
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorMargaret Harris (Supervisor)


  • third sector organisations
  • impact
  • Euroepan Union funding
  • cross-national perspectives

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