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Chapter 4 The Emergence of a Third-Order System in the Danish Welfare Sector

The Third Sector

ISBN: 978-1-78052-280-7, eISBN: 978-1-78052-281-4

ISSN: 2046-6072

Publication date: 8 November 2011


Purpose – To analyze the emergence of new organizational forms in the Danish welfare sector.

Design/methodology/approach – Drawing on Niklas Luhmann and Gunther Teubner, the research analyzes governmental documents, policy programs, action plans, and strategic documents.

Findings – A partnering structure has emerged with a new politics of voluntarism, complex forms of integration and new imaginary distinctions between voluntariness and public care. This can usefully be conceptualized as aspects of the stabilization of a “third-order system.” The research identified a number of different managerial strategies for involvement in the system.

Practical and social implications – Social welfare has become a mix of public and civil society values and norms, and extensive resources have been invested from both governmental and nongovernmental sides to build up shared competences for the new forms of partnering-based organization. However, to act according to the new principles of partnering, at the strategic and managerial level, the voluntary organizations have to behave in a schizophrenic manner – as both individual organizations and cooperational partners within the system.

Research implications – The concept of “third-order system” is especially useful in analyzing mixed forms of management in the welfare sector.

Originality – Different forms of radical organizational analysis are combined to develop a notion of “third-order system” in the welfare sector.



la Cour, A. and Højlund, H. (2011), "Chapter 4 The Emergence of a Third-Order System in the Danish Welfare Sector", Hull, R., Gibbon, J., Branzei, O. and Haugh, H. (Ed.) The Third Sector (Dialogues in Critical Management Studies, Vol. 1), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 87-111.



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