First impressions: introducing the 'Real Times' third sector case studies

Working Paper 67

This paper introduces the fifteen core case studies that form the basis of Real Times, our study of third sector organisations, groups and activities over time. This paper outlines some of the key questions we are asking to build a picture of their fortunes, strategies challenges and performance.

Some initial key issues that emerged include:

  • Several organisations were planning significant cutbacks in anticipation of the October 2010 spending review. Some were experiencing ‘anticipatory anxiety’, waiting for cuts, but unsure how they would fall.
  • Several organisations were attempting to read and interpret the new policy environment, and reposition themselves in different ways
  • The case studies illustrate some interesting examples of relationships between organisations, including centre-periphery, consortia and possible partnerships
  • The research encountered some remarkable experiences. One community run shop, for example, seems to be a huge success after 18 months trading, despite operating in a relatively deprived area, with no business support or plan and limited start up funds.

We are studying these core case studies, and their relationships with complementary case studies, over a three year period. This report provides a descriptive account of research up to the end of the first wave of field work. The picture that emerges represents only the first stage of a longer journey within the organisations it describes. As the study unfolds, we anticipate significant changes in the issues, concerns and agendas of these organisations.

A more detailed analytical account of these organisations, as they encounter a changing political and economic environment in Spring 2010, is in preparation.

Research contact

Rob Macmillan

Working paper