Government Mapping of the Third Sector: A Government Innovation for Regulation and Coordination? Perspectives From the Third Sectorby Susan Appe

International Journal of Public Administration

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Year
2015
DOI
10.1080/01900692.2014.956896
Subject
Business and International Management / Public Administration

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International Journal of Public Administration

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Government Mapping of the Third Sector: A

Government Innovation for Regulation and

Coordination? Perspectives From the Third Sector

Susan Appea a Department of Public Administration, Binghamton University, Binghamton, New York, USA.

Published online: 15 Jun 2015.

To cite this article: Susan Appe (2015) Government Mapping of the Third Sector: A Government Innovation for Regulation and Coordination? Perspectives From the Third Sector, International Journal of Public Administration, 38:10, 724-733, DOI: 10.1080/01900692.2014.956896

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International Journal of Public Administration, 38: 724–733, 2015

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ISSN: 0190-0692 print / 1532-4265 online

DOI: 10.1080/01900692.2014.956896

Government Mapping of the Third Sector: A Government Innovation for Regulation and Coordination? Perspectives From the Third Sector

Susan Appe

Department of Public Administration, Binghamton University, Binghamton, New York, USA

This article examines the policy tool of a registry of civil society organizations in a regulatory transparency framework. A registry serves as a government ‘mapping’ tool by collecting data on civil society and nonprofit organizations. Do government efforts to map the third sector hinder or foster nonprofit organizations’ capacity and their coordination? The balance between regulation and the strengthening of nonprofit organizations’ capacity and the coordination of goods and services through government innovations like the registries—i.e., third sector mappings—might indeed have the potential to foster a more effective and efficient third sector.

Keywords: third-sector mapping, government innovation, registries of civil society organizations, regulation transparency mechanisms

Given the blurring relationships between the market, civil society, and public sector, the concept of innovation has received a lot of attention—both in scholarship and in policy debates (Bassi, 2010; Economist, 2010; Edwards, 2008;

Frumkin, 2005; Phills, Deiglmeier, & Miller, 2008; Mulgan, 2006; Westley & Antadze, 2010). We can understand innovation as “an idea, practice, or object that is perceived as new by an individual or another unit of adoption” (Roger, 2003, loc. 657). This article addresses the government mapping of the third sector as a potential government innovation. In particular, it examines a government policy tool through the framework of regulatory transparency mechanisms (Weil,

Fung, Graham, & Fagotto, 2006). The policy tool examined in the article is the registry of civil society organizations.

A registry serves as a government “mapping” tool by collecting data on civil society and nonprofit organizations (Appe, 2011). The article proposes an important question related to government mapping of the third sector: Do these government efforts to map the third sector hinder or foster nonprofit organizations’ capacity and their coordination?

Registries not only organize and rationalize nonprofit organizations, but they also have a role in regulation and in fostering effective collaboration among nonprofit

Correspondence should be addressed to Susan Appe, Assistant

Professor, Department of Public Administration, College of Community and Public Affairs, Binghamton University, University Downtown Center,

Room 341, P.O. Box 6000, Binghamton, NY 13902-6000, USA. E-mail: sappe@binghamton.edu organizations and the goods and services they provide.

To elaborate the argument, the article presents data from two

Latin American countries, Ecuador and Colombia, which have experimented with registries of civil society organizations. Analysis is based on government administrative and legislative data and data derived from 82 interviews with nonprofit leaders. Specifically, the article analyzes the potential effectiveness of a registry as a regulatory transparency mechanism through interview data that highlight the perspectives of the target population—nonprofit organizations.

To date, the regulatory transparency framework presented by

Weil et al. (2006) has not yet been applied to policy tools targeting the third sector.

It is noted that many governments are putting forth further restrictions and regulations on civil society and nonprofit organizations (Human Rights Watch, 2006; International