Centre Director: Professor Donal McKillop
The Centre for Not-for-profit and Public-sector Research (CNPR) is an interdisciplinary research centre based at Queen’s Management School, Belfast. It aims to promote research into issues relating to public-sector and not-for-profit organisations (such as charities, credit unions and social-enterprise agencies). It focuses on three main themes: accountability in the charity and public sectors; financial institutions; and managing in the charity and public sectors. The Centre brings together academic staff, graduate students and industry experts researching and practising in the area from across the university and elsewhere.
The overall aim of the Centre is to build and co-ordinate academic and sector expertise that will allow the examination, analysis and evaluation of not-for profit and public-sector organisations in order to promote understanding, good management practices and evidence-based policy development and debate. As such it will provide a foundation for thought leadership. This will be reflected in the positive effects of the Centre outside academia, particularly on civil society and on government.
Accountability in the charity and public sectors
A key grouping of researchers within Queen’s Management School focuses on accountability, accounting change and governance in the charity and public sectors. In the charity sector this work has particularly examined performance reporting, stakeholder engagement and reporting frameworks. Aspects of this research have impacted directly on the recent proposed reporting and accounting framework in the UK, the Charity Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP), which details how charities are required to report. Moreover, ongoing research is examining the possible impact of this new framework on accounting and reporting via the lens of legitimation strategies. Complementary work has explored the extent and impact of stakeholder engagement with respect to reporting frameworks, with a detailed critique of the ‘governance’ of charities emerging. In the public sector, much research has examined accountability, governance and accounting change in a NPM era. Over a significant period of time, staff have developed important expertise, collaboration and networks to facilitate the examination of these issues in an international context. This research, much of which is case-based and applied, has the potential to improve accountability by, and management within, public-sector organisations.
Problems in the commercial banking industry have given rise to a renewed interest in non-traditional models of financial-services provision. One such model is that of the cooperative banking model which encompasses (in its purest form) a not-for-profit ethos. These organisations include cooperative banks and credit unions. The ownership structure of financial cooperatives encourages long-term and prudent management, and a greater focus on the needs of customers. The research work of the group has considered efficiency and performance, diversification and acquisitions and governance. Efficiency and performance studies have been undertaken for credit unions and Japanese cooperative banks and suggest that more efficient organisations tend to be larger, better capitalised and have higher levels of liquidity. Panel studies on growth, product diversification and acquisition behaviour for US credit unions highlight that small credit unions should remain as simple savings and loan institutions, while larger credit unions should incrementally exploit new product opportunities around their core retail competencies. An analysis of governance in US, Canadian and Irish credit unions suggests that the governance process has not accommodated or responded to changes in management theory or developments elsewhere in corporate governance. Current research by group members is focusing on two themes, financial capability and technology adoption.
Managing in the charity and public sectors
A key focus of the research activity of a number of staff members within Queen’s Management School has been not-for-profit management relating to health care, policing and public-sector organisations in general. In addition, research has been undertaken by group members in the areas of public-private partnerships, public finance and public-sector risk management. This work overlaps with research on the organisational dynamics of collaborative/partnership arrangements and the creation and impact of communities of practice in public-sector organisations. Furthermore, this research group possesses expertise in the area of third-sector organisations in various contexts, including that of transition economies. Members of this group have also conducted research on employee relations in the not-for-profit and voluntary sectors with a particular focus on how contracts for the provision of public services impact on these organisations and their employees/volunteers.