Performance management in hybrid organisations: A study in social housing

Graham Manville (Lead Author), Richard Greatbanks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
17 Downloads (Pure)


The nature and role of social housing across the European States is growing more diverse every decade. From the wide range of social housing as a percentage of total housing stock, the many different housing options provided, to the vast array of housing allocation mechanisms and differing levels of equity delivered by such mechanisms, social housing across Europe presents an increasingly complex social challenge. As such a one-size-fits-all solution to these challenges is unlikely to present itself, and researchers are therefore forced to focus on the specifics of a region or state—this is the case with this study.

Within the UK, Housing Associations (HAs) have played a fundamental role within successive government social housing policies for at least three decades. However, through a succession of legislative changes, welfare reform and the deregulation of their non-profit social role, HAs have been fundamentally challenged, and are now exposed to competition from private registered providers.

This study poses the overarching research question; what role does performance management play in the transition to a competitive hybridised social housing sector? Exploring this question, the paper analyses the effect of this transition through institutional isomorphism and considers specifically how a sample of English HAs sense uncertainty within the social housing sector and respond to the coercive, normative, and mimetic isomorphic pressures at play.

This study finds the primary mechanism by which HAs appear to sense and respond to external changes within the sector is through their strategic performance measurement systems and metrics. Social, political, and competitive changes in the sector are ‘sensed’ as a misalignment within the existing strategic performance metrics, exerting isomorphic pressures on the organisational governance team to respond by realigning the performance metrics with the sensed changes. In this way, we posit that strategic performance measurement is linked to and plays a much more pivotal role, in the hybridisation of third-sector organisations than previously reported within the literature.

Examples of such realignment include the increased use of benchmarking performance as a normative practice, and the replication of perceived best practice from the private sector to remain competitive and sustainable. Such changes reflect on an increasingly hybridised position for HAs, which now focus on improving business-critical activities, rather than simply producing performance data as a means of demonstrating good governance and compliance to their regulatory body.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)533-545
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Management Journal
Issue number3
Early online date17 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


  • performance management
  • Third sector
  • Social Housing
  • hybridization

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