Apparently, Diakonissestiftelsen rests on a strong basis of legitimacy. This is the impression I have got during two years working there as a project manager, engaged in the planning and building processes that play a central role in a new business plan for the organization. Diakonissestiftelsen was grounded 150 years ago as a private provider of welfare services, primarily nursing, but throughout the years expanding to many other fields such as childcare and homes for elderly people. Incrementally, the public sector has taken over the responsibility for many af the welfare services, and Diakonissestiftelsen’s role has changed to that of a private provider carrying out services on contracts with a local or central government or within the frame of the free choice reform that was recently implemented in home care to the elderly. The aim of the development plan UP 2020 is to introduce new business areas and to improve the physical and organizational conditions for existing activities. One of the new business areas is a special type of senior dwelling for people aged 55+, prepared for giving the residents support and care when needed, but based on the idea of a community where the residents help each other to keep active and self-reliant as long as possible. The ongoing marketization of public welfare on one hand provides a scene for private organizations like Diakonissestiftelsen, on the other hand it involves a greater competetive pressure. I have asked myself the following questions: “Will the increased competition, including new generations of customers with a different taste, or general societal changes in norms and beliefs, attack the legitimacy of an ‘old-fashioned’ organization like Diakonissestiftelsen? What is the legitimacy actually based on? And do the customers share the organization’s self-perception?” In order to delimit the scope of the review I have focused on the area of products and services for elderly people, covering three types of market: free market, qausi-market, and contract (in this case with the municipality of Frederiksberg). The literature on organizational legitimacy seems fragmentary, but Mark C. Suchman offers a coherent comprehension of the phenomenon and a model for analysing the sources of legitimacy. Suchman makes a distinction between three types of legitimacy: pragmatic, moral, and cognitive. In addition to the institutional approach Suchman also has a strategic approach describing means of gaining, maintaining, and repairing legitimacy. Kurt Klaudi Klausen, however, deals with legitimacy from a more strategic point of view, defining eight strategic arenas, on which organizations struggle for legitimacy. Suchman and Klausen constitute the primary theoretical framework for my survey. Having conducted interviews with three users of Diakonissens Home Care for Elderly and three potential residents in the future senior dwellings, I was surprised to find that they to a very high degree seem to share the organization’s own perception that the customers get some kind of intangible ‘extra value’, despite the fact that the product or service does not differ substantially from what they could get elsewhere. I also found that Diakonissestiftelsen’s basic values like altruism and social responsibility considerably influence the customers’ feeling that they receive a better service, and make them attribute higher reliability to the organization than to other public or private providers. Contrary to what could be expected, the customers do not base their evaluation mainly on self-interest. For their part, legitimacy stems from a closely intertwined range of pragmatic, moral, and cognitive elements. Regardless of their personal beliefs – covering a span from deeply believing to ‘not particularly believing’ – they assess the altruism as being related to Diakonissestiftelsen’s christian origins. And they perceive the organization as a protection against the negative consequences of today’s predominant regime based on economic thinking and regulation. For the municipality, in reverse, the legitimacy of organizations like Diakonissestiftelsen largely rests on pragmatic self-interest. When I interviewed the manager of social services, his focus was on finding ways in which the private organization can add value to the municipality’s value chain. Judged by this survey, Diakonissestiftelsen can gain/maintain legitimacy from the municipality by stressing the role as a good sparring partner in terms of developing professional standards and methods, and by constantly being aware of producing an appropiate mix of professional skills among the staff. Finally, I present a list of recommendations on strategic arenas for the organization’s future struggle for maintaining its legitimacy. Among these are two arenas where Diakonissestiftelsen has historically obtained good results, but in which the organization during the recent years has forgotten to give attention: the political arena and the arena of conceptual power.
|Educations||Master of Public Governance, (Executive Master Programme) Final Thesis|
|Number of pages||91|