UK employment services: understanding provider strategies in a dynamic strategic action field

Taylor, Rebecca; Rees, James and Damm, Christopher (2016). UK employment services: understanding provider strategies in a dynamic strategic action field. Policy and Politics, 44(2) pp. 253–267.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1332/030557314X14079275800414

Abstract

UK employment services are increasingly delivered by public, private and third sector organisations in quasi-markets that can be viewed as fields with actors (providers) competing for resources and position. The commissioning of the Work Programme produced an ‘episode of contention’ as fewer resources, shifting policy priorities and new contractual arrangements restructured relationships within the field. Drawing on empirical research the paper demonstrates how providers with different resources have navigated this period, employing strategies to manage challenger and incumbent roles and maintain their position in the field. The findings contribute to both field theory and our theoretical understanding of employment services.

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