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The Next ‘New’ Idea: The Challenges of Organizational Change, Decline and Renewal in Australian Meals on Wheels

  • Melanie OppenheimerEmail author
  • Jeni Warburton
  • Janene Carey
Original Paper

Abstract

The iconic Australian voluntary organization, Meals on Wheels, has delivered meals to the elderly and those with disabilities for over 60 years and is currently facing considerable institutional change. These exogenous changes include a more regulatory environment, tighter funding restrictions and a move towards marketization and competition. These issues are affecting a traditional service delivery organization reliant on a predominantly older volunteer workforce. This paper draws on neo-institutional theory to explore the impact of these contemporary institutional changes on an organization heavily reliant on volunteers, leading to a clash between traditional values and market concerns with efficiency and productivity. Utilizing a case study approach, and focusing on interviews with the current Australian leadership, this article explores how Meals on Wheels is managing change, and more specifically how leaders perceive the impact, and responses, of its volunteers.

Keywords

Volunteers Voluntary organizations Organizational change 

Résumé

L’emblématique organisation bénévole australienne Meals on Wheels, qui fournit des repas aux personnes âgées et handicapées depuis plus de 60 ans, est actuellement confrontée à des changements institutionnels considérables. La réglementation croissante, les restrictions budgétaires et la dérive vers le terrain des marchés et de la concurrence sont quelques-uns de ces changements d’origine externe. Ces problèmes affectent un organisme de prestation de services traditionnel qui repose principalement sur une main d’œuvre bénévole âgée. Le présent article fait appel à la théorie néo-institutionnelle pour explorer l’effet de ces changements institutionnels contemporains sur un organisme qui dépend fortement des bénévoles, amené à confronter les valeurs traditionnelles et les problématiques de marché liées au rendement et à la productivité. Par une approche de type étude de cas et en se concentrant sur des entretiens avec les dirigeants australiens actuels, cet article examine comment l’association Meals on Wheels gère le changement, et plus particulièrement comment les dirigeants en perçoivent l’effet sur les bénévoles et la réaction de ces derniers.

Zusammenfassung

Die ikonische australische ehrenamtliche Organisation „Meals on Wheels“ („Essen auf Rädern“), die seit über 60 Jahren Mahlzeiten an ältere und behinderte Menschen liefert, sieht derzeit erheblichen institutionellen Änderungen entgegen. Unter anderem sind ein erhöht regulatorisches Umfeld, größere Finanzbeschränkungen sowie ein Schritt in Richtung Vermarktlichung und Wettbewerb vorgesehen. Dies hat Auswirkungen auf eine traditionelle Serviceorganisation, die auf überwiegend ältere ehrenamtliche Arbeitskräfte angewiesen ist. Der vorliegende Beitrag stützt sich auf die neoinstitutionelle Theorie, um zu untersuchen, wie sich diese gegenwärtigen institutionellen Änderungen auf eine Organisation auswirken, die stark auf ehrenamtliche Mitarbeiter angewiesen ist, was zu einer Diskrepanz zwischen traditionellen Werten und den Belangen des Marktes hinsichtlich Effizienz und Produktivität führt. Unter Verwendung eines Fallstudienansatzes und mit einer Konzentration auf Befragungen der derzeitigen australische Unternehmensführung untersucht der Beitrag, wie Meals on Wheels die Änderungen handhabt und insbesondere, wie die Führungskräfte die Auswirkungen wahrnemen und die Reaktionen der ehrenamtlichen Mitarbeiter auffassen.

Resumen

La organización voluntaria australiana icónica, Meals on Wheels (Comidas sobre Ruedas), ha dado comidas a las personas de edad y a aquellas con discapacidades durante más de 60 años y actualmente se está enfrentando a un considerable cambio institucional. Estos cambios exógenos incluyen un entorno más regulador, restricciones de financiación más exigentes, y un movimiento hacia la marketización y la competencia. Estas cuestiones están afectando a una organizaciones tradicional de entrega de servicios que confía en una fuerza laboral voluntaria predominantemente mayor. El presente documento se apoya en la teoría neoinstitucional para explorar el impacto de estos cambios institucionales contemporáneos en una organización que confía enormemente en voluntarios, lo que lleva a una colisión entre valores tradicionales y preocupaciones del mercado con eficiencia y productividad. Utilizando un enfoque de estudio de caso, y centrándonos en entrevistas con los líderes australianos actuales, el presente artículo explora cómo Meals on Wheels está gestionando el cambio, y más específicamente cómo los líderes perciben el impacto, y las respuestas, de sus voluntarios.

Chinese

标志性的澳大利亚志愿组织Meals on Wheels已为老年人和残疾人送餐超过60年,当前正在经历相当大的机构改革。这些外诱性变革包括更多的监管环境、更加严格的资金限制以及走向市场和竞争。这些问题正在影响依赖于主要老年志愿者的传统服务交付组织。本文利用了新制度理论,以探讨这些现代机构变革对高度依赖于志愿者组织的影响,导致传统价值以及市场关注在效率和生产力之间的冲突。采用案例研究方法,专注于采访当前澳大利亚领导者,本文探讨了Meals on Wheels如何管理变革,更加特定地是,领导者如何看待影响及其志愿者的反应。

Japanese

象徴的なオーストラリアのボランティア団体である給食宅配サービスは、60 年以上にわたり高齢者と身体不自由者に食事を宅配しているが、現在組織の変化において深刻な状況に直面している。この外因的な変化には、規制環境、厳しい財源の制約、競争と市場化に向けた動きが含まれる。これらの問題は、主として高齢のボランティアの労働力に依存する伝統的なサービスの提供団体に影響を与える。本論では、新制度論における組織、ボランティアに大きく依存する組織に対して、現代的な制度の変更への影響を調査して、効率性と生産性に対する伝統的な価値観と市場の懸念に対立を導く。本論では、事例研究アプローチを用いて、現在のオーストラリアのリーダーシップとのインタビューに焦点を当てて、給食宅配サービスの変更に対してどのように管理しているか、具体的にはリーダーがどのようにボランティアの反応と影響を認識しているかを調査する。

Arabic

منظمة تطوعية أسترالية متميزة، وجبات جاهزة، قامت بتوصيل وجبات الطعام لكبار السن وذوي الإعاقة لأكثر من 60 عام وتواجه حاليا˝تغيير مؤسسي كبير. تشمل هذه التغييرات الخارجية بيئة أكثر تنظيمية، فرض قيود أكثر صرامةعلى التمويل، وتحرك نحو السوق والمنافسة. هذه المشاكل تؤثر على منظمة خدمات التوصيل التقليدية التي تعتمد على قوى عاملة تطوعية في الغالب كبار السن. يستنتج هذا البحث على نظرية مؤسسية جديدة لإكتشاف أثر هذه التغييرات المؤسسية المعاصرة على منظمة تعتمد بشكل كبيرعلى المتطوعين، مما أدى إلى إشتباك بين القيم التقليدية ومخاوف السوق مع الكفاءة والإنتاجية. إستخدام منهج دراسة حالة، والتركيز على المقابلات مع القيادة الاسترالية الحالية، يفحص هذا المقال كيف توصيل الوجبات الجاهزة يدير التغيير، وبشكل أكثر تحديدا˝ كيف يرى القادة التأثير، والإستجابات، من متطوعيهم.

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Copyright information

© International Society for Third-Sector Research and The Johns Hopkins University 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melanie Oppenheimer
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jeni Warburton
    • 2
  • Janene Carey
    • 3
  1. 1.School of International StudiesFlinders University South AustraliaBedford ParkAustralia
  2. 2.John Richards Chair of Rural Aged Care ResearchLa Trobe UniversityWodongaAustralia
  3. 3.School of HumanitiesUniversity of New EnglandArmidaleAustralia

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