Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Legitimacy and the role of UK third sector organizations in the policy process

Taylor, Marilyn; Warburton, Diane


Marilyn Taylor

Diane Warburton


This paper explores the legitimacy of third sector organizations in the policy process in the United Kingdom. It draws on empirical research to examine how legitimacy is defined, both by third sector organizations and by those they target within government. The paper argues that while many third sector organizations give high priority to political forms of legitimacy-in the sense of participatory structures and accountability to members and beneficiaries-government is generally more likely to give priority to technical forms of legitimacy, e.g., the quality of research and the ability to implement policy. Nonetheless, political legitimacy is still important, first because this is the form of legitimacy that third sector organizations claim for themselves and second because, as government gives way to governance with an increase in partnerships and collaboration, the dilemmas faced by third sector organizations in achieving political legitimacy are being faced on a broader canvas.


Taylor, M., & Warburton, D. (2003). Legitimacy and the role of UK third sector organizations in the policy process. Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 14(3), 321-338.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2003
Journal Voluntas
Print ISSN 0957-8765
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Volume 14
Issue 3
Pages 321-338
Keywords third sector organization,s legitimacy, accountability, policy process, partnerships, United Kingdom
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : Lead author, reworking and providing a conceptual framework for theme paper prepared by co-author summarising data from empirical research on an ESRC funded project for which Taylor was lead applicant, joint manager and co-researcher.

Downloadable Citations