The dissertation researched the impact of the third sector and volunteering on socio-economic development of Croatia. The third sector is conceptualized according to the definition and criteria that include social entrepreneurship and parts of the social economy and sector characteristics, as well as characteristics of the organizations that belong to it. As a theoretical framework for consideration of the impact we have selected social origins theory. The theory emphasizes the path dependence, including historical, economic, political and social factors and relations among sectors. As the third sector is a new concept in our environment we gave an overview of its historical legacy, legal, tax and policy framework, data about sector and current developmental trends and challenges.
Impact measurement is an highly complex task and so far in Croatian context unexplored topic. So we have presented key achievements in measuring the impact of the third sector and the aspects which are relevant that measurement. We also gave an overview of methodological aspects of assessing impact, possible limitations, and achievements so far, as well as state of the art. The impact of the third sector in Croatia was analysed in selected dimensions of well-being and quality of life; social innovation; civic engagement, empowerment, advocacy, and community building; economic dimension and the dimension of impact on human resources, which were elaborated.
The dissertation is based on qualitative research methodologies. Semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders in the sector and case studies of different types of organizations in the sector were used as research methods. Secondary material for analysis included laws, strategies and other relevant documents which are related to the status and development of the third sector.
The main findings of the research suggest primarily that measuring the impact is not yet on the agenda in the sector or outside it. The capacity of organizations and implementing bodies in this regard are modest. Perceived impact of the third sector is highlighted in all of the researched dimensions. The third sector, with its constant focus on user’s needs and dedication to them, produces an impact on quality of life. It is especially important for groups that are exposed to various social risks. Third sector organizations produce social innovation in the modalities of working but in this aspect, they face significant obstacles, particularly regarding promotion of good governance principles. The third sector is recognized by key stakeholders as a defender of citizens’ rights, the means through which organized citizens can protect, inform and defend the public goods, although the extent of participation in public policies is limited. Also, the sector is becoming an increasingly important economic actor, especially in local communities. It’s a leader in the integration of groups that have obstacles in accessing labour market and provision of social services in certain areas. The third sector is introducing in the public sphere new ways of thinking about economic relations in society. It is a factor of strengthening human resources in terms of knowledge and skills and to some extent a source of satisfaction of employees who are joining organizations following their values. Volunteering is still not sufficiently recognized. There are still many barriers in terms of understanding the role of the third sector such as public and decision makers’ perceptions, institutional, primarily the tax, frame and increasing bureaucratic demands on the sector, which is considered as the path dependence of the sector development. Therefore, the full potential of the impact of the third sector on the socio-economic development of Croatia has not yet been realized.
Danijel, how do you think that your PhD research will have a repercussion on your professional life?
My Ph.D. was a process that was undergone in an inseparable relationship with two FP7 projects, WILCO (Welfare Innovations at Local Leven in favour of Cohesion) and TSI-Third Sector Impact (The Contribution of the Third Sector to Europe’s Socio-economic Development). It was a joint process of experience of collaboration and support with European researches and my thesis research project. That process enabled me to exchange ideas, get feedback on my work, and shaped my professional identity. Also, it gave me connections with scholars in the field, the priceless opportunity to learn in different kind of conferences and events. This have certainly opened an horizon of professional experiences and introduced me in my research interest areas. So, I had an opportunity to learn a lot, but I have also learned that the Ph.D. is just the begging.
The Ph.D. opened an interesting and challenging area for a continuation of my professional life. Knowledge and experience that I have gained in that process made me a more self-confidant researcher, build my professional competencies in research, dissemination, networking, project writing and management areas that would enable me to strive for quality research and social engagement projects within my university position, in my community and wider in the rest of my professional life.
Danijel Baturina is postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Social Policy at Faculty of Law, University of Zagreb. Since 2016 he holds a PhD from the same Faculty,. From 2014 to January 2017 he was employed as a Research/Teaching Assistant on the EU FP7 project TSI (Third Sector Impact). He is also a researcher in International Comparative Social Enterprise Models – ICSEM – Project. From 2011-2014 he was employed as an assistant/junior researcher at the EU FP7 project WILCO (Welfare Innovations at Local Level in favour of Cohesion).
He is a member of the ISTR (International Society of Third Sector Research), Croatian network of evaluators, Cooperative for ethical financing, Centre for Development of Non-Profit Organizations, Transparency International Croatia, among others. His scientific interests include: civil society and the third sector, social policy, social innovations, social entrepreneurship and impact measurement. He has published more the dozen scientific papers and book chapters and has presented papers on number of international conferences.
Full bibliography (Croatian only)
You can contact Danijel at firstname.lastname@example.org