‘You can’t win’: The non-profit double-bind and experiences of organisational contradictions in the non-profit and voluntary sector

There is growing evidence that in the UK demands for non-profit and voluntary sector organisations to comply with funders’ target driven priorities are often in tension with organisations’ social goals. The implications of this for employees are not yet sufficiently understood. The present article builds on Bateson et al.’s theory of double-bind to develop a socially contextualised model to understand employees’ experiences of workplace contradictions in the sector. Drawing from data provided by 49 individuals working in three case study organisations, our conceptualisation of a ‘non-profit double-bind’ provides a new and novel way of understanding how social meta-communicative processes serve to embed or reframe contradictions within intense employment relationships.

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