Thursday, March 14, 2013

Why the application of market models is misguided and dangerous?

Debra Allcock Tyler and Catherine Walker from the UK Based Directory of Social Change write here on why market based models and market based thinking is counter to the values and raison d'etre of the not for profit sector.

Allcock Tyler and Walker directly challenge the prevailing market based views that are dominant among influential policy makers and decision makers in areas of social policy and human and community services. They write does seem to be the prevailing view in government circles that charities are simply another source to supply the market. This view completely fails to recognise the fact that charitable endeavour is at its core about altruism. It is not a transactional activity, but a transformational one. And the work of charities is far more than simply the cause. The existence of charities acts as a ‘call to the heart’ of our citizens. Charitable endeavour calls forth in others the desire and willingness to serve others, our communities and our society. The current model of the market applied to our sector is not appropriate. Indeed, it assumes that the market model in and of itself has inherent attributes that work across sectors. There are some core myths about the market model:
(1) market models are the most effective way to deliver the work of charities;
(2) the beneficiary is the same as any consumer, with rational informed desires about where to seek help;
(3) those interacting with charities desire to do so on a transactional basis, for example, givers and volunteers will do so only if an end reward is on offer; and
(4) charities are inefficient and social investment is the way forward.
Allcock and Tyler go on to demolish these myths and argue that the application of market models to the not for profit sector is misguided  and dangerous. They conclude:
Charities are fundamentally an embodiment of the best part of human nature, the best evolutionary bit, the bit that makes us a social being with the common good at heart. Value comes in living a good life. Value is about selflessness not about a price tag imposed in an intrinsically greedy marketplace. This is not piety or sentimentality, nor is it about good and evil, but it is about what kind of charity sector is best for a good, big or better society.

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