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Advocacy and dissent: Can the not-for-profit organisation afford to have them?

Peachey, AnneORCID: 0000-0003-2984-0946 (2019) Advocacy and dissent: Can the not-for-profit organisation afford to have them? PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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Not-for-profit organisations are set up to enact positive outcomes in the community, they undertake multiple roles and are significant contributors to the economic fabric of a nation. As part of a social change agenda, not-for-profit organisations can engage in activities that contribute to debate and influence the development of public policy. This thesis presents the findings from a qualitative study investigating not-for-profit organisation participation in advocacy activities examining how they are engaging in public debate and the implications of this engagement in terms of risk to their current and future sources of funding.

The outcomes of the study are presented in this hybrid thesis approach which combines a traditional thesis structure of introduction, literature review, methodology and discussion, with three published articles to present key findings of the research. A qualitative case study approach was adopted in four not-for-profit organisations in the health sector in Western Australia. In-depth interviews were conducted with key stakeholders across the four organisations to explore the what, how and why of advocacy.

The research identified that the extent of policy advocacy by not-for-profit organisations has not diminished in recent times. Not-for-profit organisations, increasingly aware of the changing funding landscape, however, are adopting a strategic approach and using advocacy strategies that minimise any risk to funding and potentially ameliorate political repercussions. A component part of this approach is volunteering and social activism, and how not-for-profit organisations involve their volunteers in policy debates.

Key outcomes from this research is the generation of a model of advocacy activities and a theory of advocacy engagement showing how not-for-profit organisations make strategic choices about the approaches and tactics to be adopted. Building on the extant literature and identifying current issues facing not-for-profit organisations and their ability to advocate for policy change, the model offers insights into how organisations identified what they judge to be appropriate advocacy strategies to fit their organisational objectives, policies, funding sources and resources.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Business
United Nations SDGs: Goal 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
Supervisor(s): Paull, Megan and Holloway, David
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