Hybrid Organisations are exciting companies to work for as they balance a strong mission with a strong balance sheet. They come in a number of forms including: Housing Associations, Social Enterprises; Arm’s Length Management Organisations (ALMOs) which are commercial entities that manage activities and are wholly owned by the local authority. There are other entities such as Local Authority Trading Companies (LATCOs) which can trade with other local authorities as well as the private sector. In East Anglia, Norse Group is one of the largest LATCOs in the UK. Charities can also make a profit on condition that it is reinvested back into the enterprise and this kind of profit is known as surplus.
Moreover, they are also a very exciting sector to research and Norwich Business School’s Dr Graham Manville has researched hybrid organisations for more than 15 years winning several awards during his 20 year career. They include: Best Knowledge Transfer Partnership (2008); an Emerald Literati Award for an Outstanding Journal Article (2008); an ERSC Michael Young Prize finalist (2009) and a European Academy of Management Best Paper award (2017).
Graham has a number of national and international collaborative research partners and one of his partnerships is with Dr Richard Greatbanks, Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Learning and Teaching at the Business School of Otago University, New Zealand. Otago Business School was ranked No1. Business School in the recent research cycle and is a dual AACSB and EQUIS accredited institution.
Graham and Richard began working together back in 2008 when they met a conference and have published extensively including: one book on Third Sector Performance (2013), guest edited a special issue journal of Third Sector Performance (2010) as well as publishing three internationally peer reviewed CABS journals (2010; 2016 and 2020).
Enjoying a signature Clam Chowder Dish on the balcony of the Otago University Staff Social Club.
Graham has been a visiting academic at the University of Otago since 2013 and has visited the Dunedin campus on the South Island on three occasions. The first time was in 2013 when he delivered a keynote speech on third sector performance to an audience of academics and business leaders. He shared the platform with prominent social entrepreneurs and the Housing Minister, Honourable Paula Bennett, who went on the serve as Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand.
His second visit was in 2015 when Richard and Graham presented at the 2015 Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management (ANZAM) conference held in the picturesque Queenstown. Graham was invited to campus to deliver a master class to faculty members and participate in a workshop for PhD students.
His latest visit was in 2019 when he visited New Zealand to complete the revisions to their latest research on how strategic visual performance measurement is employed to manage the increasing hybridisation of UK social housing.
Graham’s latest research, “Performance Management in Hybrid Organizations: A Study in Social Housing”, has just been published in the European Management Journal. In this study, Graham explains how UK Social Housing has gone through a sustained period of regulatory change which compels social housing providers (“Registered Providers”) to report on their performance on a variety of key performance indicators which is administered by the sector benchmarking provider, Housemark. Registered Providers must be mindful of their business critical KPIs such as voids (unoccupied units), rental arrears and new business generation which are key to remaining viable in a sector that has become increasingly commercialised. This changing landscape has been driven by welfare reform, austerity cuts and continually hybridised competition. Within this context, the study sought to answer the research question: What role does performance management play in a competitive hybridised social housing sector?
This paper has several implications for practice. First it provides empirical evidence of hybridisation in the form of sophisticated financial and non-financial performance metrics designed, developed and used in social housing. The second contribution is that it provides evidence of how, by using the data, Registered Providers are working in partnership with their tenants and as part of a wider network of Registered Providers to manage the challenges of delivering public services in a climate of increased competition and cuts to welfare payments.
Finally, this research has practical implications for public service provision. Social housing, referred to as the ‘distant uncle’ (Mullins, 2010) of the third sector, can serve as a transitional model for other third-sector organisations, which are facing increased levels of competition in a hybridised environment.
With mergers and acquisitions continuing to take place in the sector, new “for profit” entrants from different sectors such as Legal and General entering the market and the challenges of remaining sustainable in the wake of the COVID 19 pandemic, it continues to remain a fascinating sector to research.
Graham integrates his research into his teaching and has provided work integrated learning opportunities for his UG, MSc and MBA students with large multi-million pound turnover organisations including Stonewater Group, Norse and Flagship Housing Group.
Dr Graham Manville is an Associate Professor in Business & Management and Director of Employability & Innovation for Norwich Business School