Changing trends in governance have contributed to the development of ‘capacity-building initiatives’ in the third sector to enable them to take a greater role in partnership approaches, service delivery and social entrepreneurship. However, analysts have argued that such initiatives are more likely to serve the interests of professionalised welfare groups rather than engage with communities’ own skills and interests. Drawing on in-depth individual interviews and case studies with those engaged in such activities in minority ethnic organisations in devolved Scotland, this paper reveals that ‘capacity’ is a socially constructed, negotiated process, which benefits some organisations more than others. We identify factors which are likely to either facilitate or hinder the process. While there is consensus among participants that such activities play a useful role in developing organisational capacity, we argue that the responsibility for addressing structural factors including socio-economic disadvantage and racism remains with government.
Gina NettoSchool of the Built Environment, Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh, UK