Understanding capacity for successful Community Asset Transfer of leisure facilities: The essential role of human capital

Haw, Stuart (2023) Understanding capacity for successful Community Asset Transfer of leisure facilities: The essential role of human capital. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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In the past 20 years, Community Asset Transfer (CAT) has grown as a way of delivering leisure services in England, where community groups form to manage public leisure facilities. Community management of leisure facilities and the drive of local authorities to transfer services and facilities has increased. CAT in leisure, in particular, has increased as the discretionary nature of such services makes them vulnerable during budget cuts. Whilst many community groups have succeeded in managing these facilities, the challenges for these groups that CAT through this complex process are not understood. Additionally, the capacity these groups need to conduct CAT is not known as academic research has not theorised these challenges. This study examines the necessary human capitals and how capacity is mobilised in the communities and organisations that form to conduct CAT. The focus is on interactions which mobilise the capacity of organisations.

The study adopts a critical realist methodology where qualitative case studies research was applied to four organisations which conducted CATs of leisure facilities, from varied cities. Across the cases, document analysis, focus groups, and interviews were conducted with participants (n = 52) including volunteer board members, paid staff and consultants, and local authority officers. Data was analysed using retroductive thematic analysis where descriptions of each CAT process were built.

The thesis makes multiple contributions to knowledge, by showing the human capital needed for a successful CAT to be conducted. This covers the knowledge, experience, and competences of those in groups involved in CAT. This human capital requires support from the third and public sector, but the provision of this is disproportionate across cases. Another contribution concerns the impact of the interactions those in groups have with each, other and external participants. The impact of these interactions is examined, with a theoretical contribution concerning how social and human capital are put to use in the organisations that conduct CAT. Wherein, if staff connect with community members, they do more through their role, and in maintaining relationships with local authorities, they access greater organisational resources to manage the facilities. Overall findings show a way for the capacity of CSBs to increase, but more significantly that bridging social capital is essential to form groups. The thesis makes a meta-theoretical contribution by making a conceptualisation of capital to show ways in which community and organisational human capital is developed. The thesis has significance for local authorities, funders and other organisations that are concerned with supporting community organisations to take ownership of local assets. Additionally, the findings guide communities in making realistic considerations of whether they have capacity to conduct CAT.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: community ownership, community development, management, leisure, sport Management
Subjects: L900 Others in Social studies
N100 Business studies
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2023 08:13
Last Modified: 29 Jun 2023 08:15
URI: https://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/51603

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