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You are here Postgraduate > MSc in Comparative Social Change > Course Structure and Handbook > Nonprofit Sector in Comparative Perspective

Nonprofit Sector in Comparative Perspective: Politics, Regulation and Business

Module Code: SPOL40980 (UCD)

  • ECTS Credit : 10
  • Mandatory/ Optional : Optional
  • Module Coordinator : Dr Stephan Koeppe, School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice, UCD

Module Description:

Nonprofits, NGOs and Civil Society have become increasingly important in the delivery of public services in advanced economies. How did this happen, and why does it matter? What are the implications for accountability, social justice, and quality of provision? This module investigates the politics of expanding the private sector, including for-profit providers, examining who the service providers are and how they are regulated. This module takes an inherently comparative approach, drawing from Irish, European, and international developments.

First, the module introduces the politics and policy drivers that shape the third sector with a focus on social policy. The following policy areas are covered, among others: health care, schools and education, childcare and long-term care. Second, students learn about the regulatory governance and business models that shape non-profit providers. This includes also how for-profit providers enter markets and compete with non-profits. Third, the module explores how service users navigate choices between providers and products in social services. A key focus is on the interaction between policies, regulations, culture and user choices, drawing from behavioural economics and sociology. In the final section, the outcomes of non-profit providers are discussed. A holistic assessment of outcomes with regard to trust, inequality and well-being is covered. The final two sessions analyse the European and global trends of NPOs, in particular beyond the politics beyond state boundaries in supranational organisations and international business networks.

Learning Outcomes:

On successful completion of the module students should be able to:

  • Critically analyse politics and policies shaping the sector;
  • Understand, design and change regulations;
  • Analyse individual providers in case studies;
  • Enhance their writing skills for academic, professional and lay audiences.

Lectures & Tutorials/ Contact hours:

  • Module Length: 12 weeks (Hilary Term)
  • Workload: Readings: 70hrs; Summative assessment (e.g. essays, journals): 130hrs. Total: 200 hours

Recommended Texts

Key Reading:

  • Anheier, H. K. and Salamon, L. M. (2006) ‘The nonprofit sector in comparative perspective’, in: The Nonprofit Sector: A Research Handbook.
  • Benefacts (2018) Nonprofit Sector Analysis 2018: Understanding Ireland’s third sector. Dublin: Benefacts.
  • Bode, I. (2006) ‘Disorganized welfare mixes: voluntary agencies and new governance regimes in Western Europe’, Journal of European Social Policy 16(4): 346–359.
  • Elke, H. and Hayley, B. (2016) ‘‘Best of Both Worlds’? A Comparison of Third Sector Providers in Health Care and Welfare‐to‐Work Markets in Britain’, Social Policy & Administration 50(1): 39-58.
  • Gingrich, J. R. (2011) Making Markets in the Welfare State. The Politics of Varying Market Reforms. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Guiraudon, V. and Ledoux, C. (2015) ‘The Politics of Tax Exemptions for Household Services in France’, in C. Carbonnier and N. Morel (eds): The Political Economy of Household Services in Europe. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Köppe, S., Ewert, B. and Blank, F. (2016) ‘Welfare User Roles in a Conservative Welfare State. Are Germans Citizens, Consumers or Co-producers?’, Journal of International and Comparative Social Policy 32 (1): 1–16.
  • Morgan, K. J. (2002) ‘Forging the Frontiers Between State, Church, and Family: Religious Cleavages and the Origins of Early Childhood Education and Care Policies in France, Sweden, and Germany’, Politics & Society 30(1): 113-148.
  • Pieper, J. (2018) New Private Sector Providers in the Welfare State. Cham: Springer.
  • Short, M. (2012) ‘Trade union organising in the voluntary sector’, in: Voluntary Organisations and Public Service Delivery. New York: Routledge.
  • Timonen, V. & Doyle, M. (2007). Worlds apart? Public, private and non-profit sector providers of domiciliary care for older persons in Ireland. Journal of Aging Studies 21(3): 255-265.


  • 3,500 word essay (80%), Presentation (20%)