Goal of Research: to assess the factors determining the growth of integration of nonprofits into the Russian system of delivery of social services by applying the conceptual framework of cross-sectoral cooperation theory to the analysis of empirical data and, based on this assessment, produce recommendations on priority measures supporting interaction between the state and nonprofits in the social sectors.
Object of Research: interaction among units of government and nonprofit organizations in the delivery of social services in search of increased efficiency and effectiveness for the social sector.
A multidisciplinary approach has been implemented involving sociological economic, historic, philosophic and public administration perspectives. To assess empirical data mathematical methods of data analysis were used.
Empirical Base of Research:
- data generated by nonprofit surveys implemented by the Center for Studies of Civil Society and the Nonprofit Sector at the NRU HSE in 2007-2017, including data generated by the Monitoring of Civil Society project;
- Russian statistical and sociological data on various aspects of government-nonprofit relations in Russia, in particular on the scope and structure of the delivery of social services;
- Russian legal data bases featuring government regulation of the nonprofit sector and the delivery of services in the social sectors;
- Sources from state archives of the Russian Federation, including The State Archive of the Russian Federation (Moscow); The Central History Archive of the City of Moscow; The Russian State History Archive (St.-Petersburg);
- data bases of the Johns Hopkins Comparative Nonprofit Project.
- The conceptual approaches, relevant in the analysis of the transformation of the role of nonprofits in social services delivery were revisited: economic theories explaining the production of public goods; theories of social origins of the third sector; public management concepts explaining cross-sectoral cooperation and nonprofit management theory.
- Among the “external” factors influencing the involvement of nonprofits in the delivery of social services the features of the legislative environment and the level of public trust in NGOs were determined as particularly important currently in Russia.
- The current vector of the evolution of the legislative environment for Russian nonprofit social services suppliers proves a considerable interest on the part of the government to engage nonprofits’ capacities in solving social problems. However, the involvement of nonprofits in social services delivery is slowed down by a number of tangible administrative barriers.
- Public trust towards NGOs in Russia shows a positive dynamic throughout 2010-2017. In particular charities and local community organizations have more recently benefitted from increased public trust. This factor is favorable for the involvement of nonprofits in the delivery of social services.
- Internal factors lying on the side of NGOs such as managerial approaches to fundraising, engagement of volunteers and organizational capacity for social innovation also play a substantial role as determinants of the effectiveness of nonprofits’ cooperation with the state in the delivery of social services. The analysis revealed substantive “deficits” in Russian nonprofits with respect to their professionalism in dealing with the government in the market for social services funded by the state.
- Verifying the comparative advantages of nonprofit organizations as suggested by cross-sectoral cooperation concepts (new governance theory) at Russian empirical data confirmed that Russian nonprofits possess the institutional strengths typical for their counterparts in other countries. To compensate for the typical institutional weaknesses international practices can be adapted to the Russian context.
- In historic retrospective the existence of a Russian historic tradition for effective interaction between government and NGOs has been identified and confirmed. The dominant model in Russian history was that of complementary cooperation between government and NGOs in solving social problems.
- Priority measures related to adaptation of managerial approaches in Russian nonprofits capable of speeding up the emergence of a welfare mix system include increased administrative professionalism, professional fundraising and better skills for personnel involved in the immediate delivery of social services.
- In the long-term perspective nonprofit management should be more focused on innovation which, as the research demonstrated, is the current leading comparative advantage of Russian nonprofits delivering social services. Along with this adaptation of organization culture is required to result in greater transparency and accountability of Russian NGOs as well as better skills for networking, stakeholder relations and resource diversification.
Level of implementation of the Results:
The main results of this research have been published as papers in leading international English language peer-reviewed journals and Russian language academic journals listed in Scopus and Web of Science. Data and recommendationsbased on the results of this study have been incorporated in policy papers presented to relevant policy making bodies in the Russian government. Further implementation occurred in the delivery of training courses at the Department of Public Administration at the NRU HSE, Chair for Management of NGOs.