Many social services today are provided through solutions that require interaction between nonprofits and business. The purpose of this study is to examine the nature of the relationship between the different players in such mixed markets. One such market is workforce integration programs for persons with disabilities. The authors studied the relationships and interactions between collaborating nonprofits and business firms within the context of actor–network theory (ANT) by examining the process of workforce integration.
The study included in-depth interviews and questionnaires with 47 managers of employers that were hiring persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as in-depth interviews with ten senior managers in five nonprofit organizations involved in work integration of persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The interview data were analyzed using qualitative thematic analysis and content analysis.
The authors found an intricate relationship between employers and nonprofits promoting workforce integration. While it seemed that both players were involved in different and complementary aspects and phases of the integration process, the relationship revealed complicated power relations, interdependencies and imbalanced collaborative patterns, resulting in relatively symmetric relations, known as strategic bridging.
Business compliance with workforce integration depends on continued support by nonprofit services.
Findings are essential for promoting workforce integration, and policies need to support the role of nonprofit services.
The study highlights the co-dependence between nonprofits and businesses, contrary to common views that nonprofits are dependent on businesses.
An earlier version of this article, “On a tightrope: the dependence of business on NPOs in the work integration of mentally challenged persons” was presented at the 43rd Annual ARNOVA Conference, Denver, CO, November, 2014. The study was funded by Keren Shalem: The Shalem Fund for Development of Services for People with Intellectual Disabilities in the Local Council (Grant # 97). The authors wish to thank the employers and workers that agreed to share their knowledge and experiences with them.
Katz, H. and Sasson, U. (2017), "Businesses, nonprofits and strategic bridging: the case of workforce integration in Israel", Society and Business Review, Vol. 12 No. 2, pp. 121-135. https://doi.org/10.1108/SBR-05-2016-0034
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