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Malin Arvidson. Photo: Patrik Hekkala

Malin Arvidson

Senior lecturer | PhD in Sociology

Malin Arvidson. Photo: Patrik Hekkala

Evidence and transparency in the open public services-reform: perspectives for the third sector


  • Malin Arvidson

Summary, in English

The concepts of ‘transparency’ and ‘evidence of what works’ are key features in the implementation and success of the open public service policy. This paper explores, from the perspective of the third sector, the meaning of these concepts and how we can expect them to be operationalized. Initially, an implementation guided by evidence and transparency seems reasonable and ethical. The practical meanings of the concepts become more complicated once we look more closely into the institutional landscape in which organisations operate, with competition for limited resources, uncertainties around commissioning, and opposing ideas about what counts as evidence creating an unpredictable environment. The principles of transparency and evidence-based policy can contribute to the public good through providing the basis for trust between different stakeholders. From the perspective of the individual organisation though, sharing information may expose them to the control and judgement by outsiders. The paper identifies some key research questions that highlight the challenges faced by third sector organisations in this context.


  • School of Social Work

Publishing year





TSRC Working Paper Series



Document type

Working paper


Third Sector Research Centre, Birmingham University


  • Social Work


  • commissioning
  • non-profit organisations
  • evaluations
  • evidence
  • transparency