From 'contractors to the state' to 'protectors of public value'? Relations between non-profit housing hybrids and the state in England

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Colleges, School and Institutes


The move of social housing provision away from government to non-profit organisations and towards the market has been accompanied by a discourse of independence from the state. This article questions the validity of this discourse, drawing on hybridisation theory and a Delphi panel study with decision makers in 31 housing associations (HAs) in England to explore recent relations with the state. Despite considerable hybridisation, the state's continued role in defining the operating environment, resource inputs and material position of HAs is demonstrated. Recent policies of deficit reduction and welfare conditionality have challenged independent purposes of HAs. Panel organisations displayed a range of responses to these recent policies, reflecting different organisational values. Three positioning narratives are identified: 'independent social entrepreneurs', 'contractors of the state' and 'protectors of public value'. The relationship to the state remains critical to understanding each of these positions and their implications for the future hybridisation of HAs.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-283
Number of pages23
JournalVoluntary Sector Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015


  • Delphi, Hybridity, non-profit housing organisations