Dissolution of expressive and instrumental voluntary associations: Four key dimensions in explaining organizational change
Keywords:voluntary associations, voluntary organizations, organizational theory, dissolution, expressive and instrumental functions
This study inspects the reasons as for why voluntary associations end their activity and dissolve as legal entities. The empirical data was gathered through semi-structured interviews with former leaders of 30 organizations in Estonia and Finland. To appreciate the sector’s diversity, the analysis makes a distinction between associations with mainly expressive, and those with mainly instrumental functions. Causes for the associations’ dissolution fall into four different categories related to (1) the association as a social entity, (2) resources, (3) goals and (4) environment. Reasons belonging to the first category of internal, social reasons, such as problems of leadership, internal organization and membership recruitment were the most common ones. However, several reasons often intertwined. A comparison between associations of different types showed that expressive associations were most often threatened by causes in the first category, while they were surprisingly immune to the other ones.
Instrumental associations are dependent on other actors and external circumstances, and the reasons for their dissolution are likely to be related to problems with resource acquisition, goals or environments.
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