Purpose – This chapter describes how radical aims for community-owned broadband became compromised by the consequences of clientelism and elite patronage as some campaigners engaged in lobbying government.
Design/methodology/approach – Five years of participant observation and an auto-ethnographic methodology richly describe the author's involvement in a community broadband co-operative, various regional and national support groups and finally with a national group conducting campaigning, research and co-ordination activities for community ownership of Next Generation Access broadband.
Findings – This illustrates the difficulties faced by Third Sector and Civil Society organisations attempting to engage in lobbying activities in the same manner as conventional commercial lobbyists. In particular, it describes how lobbying necessitates a complex interlocking of activities, such as research, consultancy, conference organisation and other such forms of networking; and it describes how all of these activities can become subordinated to the interests of political patrons. It also suggests that the uncertainty around the meanings and relevance of the Third Sector/Civil Society has allowed the entry of older forms of exerting power such as clientelism and patronage.
Research limitations/implications – Further research is needed into a much larger group of organisations to examine the processes by which Third Sector and Civil Society groups engage with government.
Originality/value – The chapter uniquely applies Critical Management Studies and a political studies perspective on clientelism and patronage to the analysis of Third Sector and Civil Society organisations.
Hull, R. (2011), "Chapter 7 Radical Dreams Soured by Elite Patronage: The Role of Clientelism in Steering UK Broadband Campaigns", Hull, R., Gibbon, J., Branzei, O. and Haugh, H. (Ed.) The Third Sector (Dialogues in Critical Management Studies, Vol. 1), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 177-198. https://doi.org/10.1108/S2046-6072(2011)0000001020
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