The Goldilocks Question: What Size is 'Just Right' for Social Care Providers?

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Here, we apply the 'Goldilocks' question to social care: what size of care provider is 'just right'? Empirical research to date has struggled to find evidence for an optimal size for public service providers, although policymakers remain keen to suggest that size is a key aspect of organisational performance. The article makes an innovative contribution to this literature, drawing on empirical research with care providers and people who use their services in England. Findings from 143 interviews with people using different-sized care services suggest that micro-organisations (employing five staff or fewer) achieve better outcomes for their cost base than larger organisations, although our study is necessarily exploratory rather than statistically definitive. The salience of size in a social care setting provides a basis for hypothesising that organisational size may be more significant in relation to care than it has been found to be in broader public management literature, though research with larger and more robust samples is needed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-87
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Care and Caring
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


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