An examination of organisational issues in third sector organisations which undertake nonviolent direct action

Carroll, Malcolm C. (2008). An examination of organisational issues in third sector organisations which undertake nonviolent direct action. PHD thesis, Aston University.

Abstract

This thesis is an examination of organisational issues faced by Third Sector organisations which undertake nonviolent direct action. A case study methodology is employed and data gathered from four organisations: Earth First!; genetiX Snowball; Greenpeace; and Trident Ploughshares. The argument commences with a review of the literature which shows that little is known of the organising of nonviolent direct action. Operational definitions of 'organisation' and 'nonviolent direct action' are drawn from the literature. 'Organisation' is conceptualised using new institutionalism. 'Nonviolent direct action' is conceptualised using new social movement theory. These concepts inform the case study methodology in the choice of case, the organisations selected and the data gathering tools. Most data were gathered by semi-structured interview and participant observation. The research findings result from theory-building arising from thick descriptions of the case in the four organisations. The findings suggest that nonviolent direct action is qualitatively different from terrorism or violence. Although there is much diversity in philosophies of nonviolence, the practice of nonviolent direct action has much in common across the four organisations. The argument is that nonviolent direct action is an institution. The findings also suggest that new institutionalism is a fruitful approach to studies of these organisations. Along with nonviolent direct action, three other institutions are identified: 'rules'; consensus decision-making; and 'affinity groups'. An unanticipated finding is how the four organisations are instances of innovation. Tentative theory is developed which brings together the seemingly incompatible concepts of institutions and innovation. The theory suggests preconditions and then stages in the development of new organisational forms in new social movements: innovation. The three pre-conditions are: the existence of an institutional field; an 'institution-broker' with access to different domains; and a shared 'problem' to resolve. The three stages are: unlocking existing knowledge and practice; bridging different domains of practice or different fields to add, develop or translocate those practices; and establishing those practices within their new combinations or novel locations. Participants are able to move into and between these new organisational forms because they consist of familiar and habitual institutional behaviour.

Divisions: Aston Business School > Work & organisational psychology
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Institution: Aston University
Uncontrolled Keywords: new institutionalism,nonviolent direct action,innovation,third sector,new social movement
Completed Date: 2008-04

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