Aug 10, 2010

CfP: The Rise of Service Delivery Third Sector in Europe

The Education Support Program of the Open Society Institute
Announces Call for Papers on the Rise of Service Delivery Third Sector in Europe

The Education Support Program of the Open Society Institute announces a competition open to all individuals on the elaboration and presentation of research papers on the increasing importance of service delivery third sector in Europe, and especially in the new member states of the European Union.

The third sector both as a scholarly concept and as practice is complex and multifaceted. Its scholarly understanding went from a rigorous space of engagement and debate that stands between the public and the private to a space that is inextricably linked to fundamental democratic processes of governance. However, in theory but more so in practice, the third sector also has found one of its key elements in citizens mobilization, community engagement, but also as an instrument for control of public sector activities.

The third sector itself in yet another context of operation when it recently became eligible to directly access EU funds for the 2007-2013 multiannual financial framework for the delivery of public services.

This call for theoretical and empirical research paper proposals on the increasing importance of service delivery third sector in the new member states of the European Union aims to contribute to a better understanding of what the new context of operation means for CSOs engaged with public service delivery in the region of focus. Special emphasis is given to educational CSOs as the case-study as education is an area where this growing trend of public outsourcing in service delivery is most striking. Furthermore, it is also a sphere where the recipients of the services are directly and consistently impacted by the quality and delivery of the services.

Arguably, this new context gives encouraging answers to questions of civil society sustainability that arose in the aftermath of international donors pulling out of the region. However, the increasing trend of outsourcing public service delivery as a way of funding CSOs raises important questions regarding the new principal-agent relationship created, the process of selecting beneficiary CSOs, civil society independence regarding agenda formation and prioritization, critical voice of civil society as well as the capacity of CSOs in engaging with the public sector in this new relationship. In other words, the questions thrown up are at once political scientific, with core democracy concerns, legalistic and managerial. Four initial areas that come to the forefront are:

• What are the structural implications of engagement among public sector institutions and third sector organizations from the view of public service delivery? For instance, in the current programming period priority setting often was entirely government driven, that means that the agenda for civil society organizations is to a large extent also government driven.

• To what extent access to public funding for direct public service provision strengthens the institutional and programmatic capacity of third sector organizations? This poses the challenge to assessing the extent to which third sector organizations service government priorities, or they themselves are able to institutionally develop and get closer to their immediate beneficiary groups.

• What are the steps undertaken that ensure the transparency and accountability of the exiting public funding mechanisms? For instance, the public sector often finds itself in multiple and possibly incompatible positions, such as that of agenda setter, regulator, financier, but also the sole controller of the initiatives implemented by third sector organizations.

• Last but not least, what are the capacities that public sector institutions need to develop in order to provide leadership and management under various market-type mechanisms for more effective methods of producing and delivering educational public services?

Full research proposals are to be written and submitted in English (between 6,000 and 10,000 words in length).

A grant of EURO 4,000 will be awarded to successful applicants along with the costs to participate at a meeting of researchers. Successful applicants are expected to be actively engaged in the understanding the various market-type mechanisms for more effective methods of producing and delivering educational public services. We also expect those attending the conference to actively participate in discussions, by either/or presenting their papers, engaging in discussions.

Applications will include:
1. A resume/ CV.
2. A cover letter describing your interest.
3. An abstract of no more than 200 words.
4. A full research paper proposal specifying the title, and the following sections: introduction; research question(s) and relevant literature, research methodology; findings and a bibliography of relevant literature.

Applications are due September 15. Please send applications by email as PDFs to espassistance@ To ensure appropriate processing, please use "Research Paper CSO 2010" as the subject line of the email. Papers are expected to be finalized by late November 2010.

Selection criteria
The primary criteria for selection include:
1. The relevance of the paper for the themes announced.
2. The conceptual clarity of the paper.

Applicants will receive confirmation of their application, and selection results will be announced by September 30.

A total number of 5 to 8 papers will be selected. However, we reserve the right award fewer grants subject to the quality of submissions.

For questions contact:
Laura Cziszter at lcziszter@osi. hu
Tel: +36 1 882 6142

Please quote 10 Academic Resources Daily in your application to this opportunity!

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