Competitive advantage in the new social care marketplace: a new theoretical perspective

Dearnaley Patricia (Managing Director, based at East Training & Consultancy Ltd, Bedford, UK)

Housing, Care and Support

ISSN: 1460-8790

Publication date: 12 March 2014



Changes in the UK social care sector over the past 20 years have effected a fundamental shift in commissioning and delivery relationships. This “quasi-market” challenges existing theory and models around competitive advantage. This study, as outlined in two earlier articles, addressed weaknesses in the defining framework for analysis and business planning in this new environment; the purpose of this concluding paper is to propose a new perspective for those interested in entering this market.


The original research comprised a constructive research approach through a single holistic case study, using qualitative research methods including document analysis, interviews, secondary data, observations and facilitated meetings.


This final paper offers a structured framework of analysis and response: the External Drivers Model.

Research limitations/implications

The model was developed for a scenario impacting upon a social housing agency, with ambitions to enter this market as a new provider; it may require further research to establish its generalisability to other organisations and other sectors.


This series of three papers adds to existing knowledge by critiquing current business models, and positing a potential development to existing contingency theory: the External Drivers Model. The study has resulted in a number of outputs including an outline of tools to assist in using the model.



Dearnaley, P. (2014), "Competitive advantage in the new social care marketplace: a new theoretical perspective", Housing, Care and Support, Vol. 17 No. 1, pp. 5-15.

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Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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