Hintere Außenansicht des D2 Gebäudes

The Third Sector Between Voice and Service: Comparing Old and New Democracies (NODE)

The focus of this research endeavor will be nonprofits' "service" and "voice" functions in society. Recent research reveals that these two contributions of the nonprofit sector may assume different priorities in different countries. Mapping and understanding the specific roles and functions which the public authorities, private for profit organizations and nonprofit organizations respectively assume in Austria and the Czech Republic will be the focus of a joint Austrian-Czech research project. With our partnering research groups from the Masaryk University Brno and from the Society for the Study of the Nonprofit Sector we will develop common research questions and instruments for a cross-national study with qualitative and then quantitative surveys in 2006 and 2007.

Funding is provided from the Federal Ministry of Science and Culture under its research grant program "New orientations for democracy in Europe" (NODE).

The role of nonprofit organizations (NPOs) in democratic societies forms a topic of perennial interest in the political arena as well as in socioeconomic research. Thus NPOs may fulfil two major functions in contributing to security and stabilisation of society but at the same time stimulating societal advancement: In a number of countries NPOs take a mainstay role in integrating disadvantaged groups through the provision of social services and hence constitute "social mollifiers". Simultaneously, NPOs assume an "expressive function", giving a voice to societal issues such as the protection of the environment. It cannot be assumed that the expressive function and service orientation are dichotomous variables. A majority of socially active NPOs identify themselves with both functions even though this may inevitably lead to tensions within the organisation between those who prefer the income generating service activities and those who push for the expressive obligations. Hence it remains unclear how organizations are being classified that are active in both fields. Also observed is a major lack of a concise method in classification systems such as the International Classification of Nonprofit Organizations (ICNPO) that allows to fully delineate advocacy.

Aware of these deficits this paper aims at finding a way to measure the "service" and "voice" orientation of NPOs empirically. To understand the nature of the two functions we first review previous research and existing definitions of "voice" and "service" in the NPO context. Against this backdrop the paper further elaborates on a comprehensive definition of the two items of interest and finally offers a grid serving as an orientation when elaborating on service and voice on an organizational level.

Project duration: June 2006 to May 2009

Project team: Michaela Neumayr, Michael Meyer and Ulrike Schneider (WU Vienna); Miroslav Pospíšil (Society for the Study of the Nonprofit Sector, Brünn) and Simona Skarabelová und Ivan Maly (Masaryk Universität Brünn)


Neumayr, Michaela; Schneider, Ulrike; Meyer, Michael; Haider, Astrid (2007): The Non-profit Sector in Austria - An economic, legal and political appraisal. Working Paper des Instituts für Sozialpolitik 01/2007

Neumayr, Michaela, Schneider, Ulrike, Meyer, Michael, Pospíšil, Miroslav , Škarabelová, Simona , Trávníčková, Dana. 2007. Nonprofits' functions in old and new democracies:an integrative framework and empirical evidence for Austria and the Czech Republic. Working Paper des Instituts für Sozialpolitik 02/2007:

Neumayr, Michaela, Schneider, Ulrike. 2008. Nonprofit Organisationen - mehr als nur Dienstleister. Empirische Befunde zu den Funktionen von Nonprofit Organisationen in Österreich und der Tschechischen Republik. In: Steuerung und Kontrolle in Nonprofit-Organisationen, Hrsg. Schauer, Reinbert; Helmig, Bernd; Purtschert, Robert; Witt, Dieter, 397-418. Wiesbaden: DUV-Gabler.

Neumayr, Michaela, Meyer, Michael. 2010. In search of civicness: an empirical investigation of service delivery, public advocacy, and community building by civil society organizations. In: Civicness in the governance and delivery of social services, Hrsg. Taco Brandsen, Paul Dekker, Adalbert Evers, 201-226. Baden-Baden: Nomos.

Neumayr, Michaela, Meyer, Michael, Pospisil, Miroslav, Schneider, Ulrike, Malý, Ivan. 2009. The Role of Civil Society Organizations in Different Nonprofit Regimes: Evidence from Austria and the Czech Republic. Comparative Social Research 26 167-196.

Pospisil, Miroslav, Neumayr, Michaela, Skarabelova, Simona , Maly, Ivan, Meyer, Michael, Schneider, Ulrike. 2010. Neziskové Organizace A Jejicj Funkce V Demokratické Spolecnosti.