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ISTR Call for Contributions - Stockholm, 2016

Wednesday, May 27, 2015  
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Twelfth International Conference of the International Society for Third Sector Research (ISTR)

Ersta Sköndal University College, Stockholm, Sweden

28 June  – 1 July 2016

The Third Sector in Transition:  Accountability, Transparency, and Social Innovation


This notice serves to invite interested parties to submit abstracts for contributions to the 12th International Conference to be held at the Ersta Sköndal University College, Stockholm, Sweden, from 28 June to 1 July, 2016. 

ISTR and the Conference

Founded in 1992, ISTR is a global community of scholars, policymakers, and third sector leaders dedicated to the creation, discussion, and advancement of knowledge pertaining to the Third Sector and its impact on civil society, the welfare state, and public policy.

In this era of far-reaching changes in the way that societies are organized, the Third Sector is playing a critical role and has significantly gained importance in many countries. Democratization and the role of civil society in social integration and participation are in the spotlight throughout the world.  New media, social networks and other technological innovations raise new opportunities and challenges for organizing collective action and the diversity of civil society. Marketization and its impact on the Third Sector is attracting renewed research interest as welfare budgets are cut and the role of nonprofits is called into question in difficult fiscal times.  In many nations including Scandinavia, for-profit health and social welfare organizations are actively competing with third sector organizations for public funding. A second type of marketization is also attracting attention particularly the growth of corporate social responsibility (CSR), the emergence of social enterprises and changing philanthropic paradigms. Social innovation and the role of third sector organizations as vehicles for innovation and more effective programs continue to receive widespread international attention.  These profoundly important trends call for research to inform scholars and practitioners on the implications of these trends for theory, policy and practice. 

ISTR’s Twelfth International Conference in Stockholm, Sweden offers an excellent opportunity for further dialogue on these and other changes in an environment of rigor, reflexivity, dialogue, and creativity.  Sweden has a very long tradition of voluntary associations that have had a significant impact on public policy.  While their public services remain reliant on local government, the rise of for-profit providers has challenged the traditional Scandinavian welfare state model and raised questions on the future role of the third sector.  Thus, the 2016 conference will be occurring in the context of a widespread debate and re-examination of the traditional Social-Democratic welfare state model.  This ongoing debate resonates with the debate through Europe, North America and Asia on the increasing competitive environment for third sector organizations and the implications of heightened expectations for performance, transparency, and accountability. 

Paper, poster, roundtable, and panel proposals are invited in response to the overall conference focus as they relate to the many, diverse and interconnected theme areas that are characteristic of third sector research. For the purposes of the ISTR International Conference, the third sector is broadly defined, including, for example:  NGOs, non-profit organizations, voluntary associations, social economy organizations, community organizations, self-help and mutual organizations, civil society organizations, foundations, philanthropy, and other manifestations of civil society globally and locally, for example networks and social forums, unions, religious organizations, co-operatives, and volunteering. 

The focus of the 2016 conference

The increasingly turbulent and complex environment for third sector organizations is the central theme of this conference.  Thus the conference organizers are keenly interested in a wide range of submissions on topics related to the theme.  Papers on the following topics would be especially welcome:

·       The Third Sector and the Welfare state

·       Civil society and Democracy

·       NGOs and Globalization

·       Accountability and Transparency

·       Social Innovation and Social Enterprise

·       Advocacy and Public Policy

·       Philanthropy and Foundations

·       Volunteerism and Co-production

·       Managing Third Sector Organizations

·       Emerging Areas of Theory and Practice


ISTR encourages contributions from all countries and disciplines, from researchers as well as from practitioners conducting research on the third sector. 

Forms of Participation:  Papers, Panels, Roundtable, and Posters

Contributions may take the form of a paper, a panel, a roundtable, or a poster.  Please indicate your choice of presentation when you submit your abstract.  The conference organizers are especially interested in innovation formats and presentations.

Abstract Submissions

To be considered for review, an abstract must include:

  • A working title that clearly identifies the conference theme being addressed.
  • A statement of the empirical or theoretical concern.
  • A short summary locating the concern within a wider literature.
  • A concise account of the empirical or theoretical methodological approach.
  • The main arguments of the paper and an indication of the supporting evidence.
  • A statement of the main conclusions and their relevance to an international audience.

The abstract must be less than 500 words in length. Abstracts not meeting these requirements will be declined by the ISTR Conference Committee.         

Please note: Abstracts must be submitted in English, as the language of the conference is English and all presentations are to be conducted in English.

Submissions for Panels, Papers and Posters

All panel, papers and poster proposals for the Conference must be submitted using ISTR’s online submission service.

To submit your paper or poster abstract using this service, go to the ISTR website – - and follow the link for ‘Submit a Proposal.’

Special Note on Panel Submissions

A panel submission is a proposal for a coordinated set of papers (usually 3 or 4 in number) on a particular topic or issue.  Please note that panel proposals require an abstract identifying and justifying the theme of the panel as well as a full abstract for each panel paper.  Panel proposals that do not include full abstracts and author information for each paper will not be considered.  The person submitting the panel proposal must be willing to act as the panel coordinator and ensure that all proposed paper presenters commit to attending the conference.

Please note that papers which are part of a submitted panel cannot be submitted separately as an individual submission.  If the submission is submitted twice by the same author it will be rejected.

Special Note on Posters and Poster Submissions

A poster proposal is an alternative to presenting a full research paper.  New researchers in particular are invited to share work-in-progress by means of a poster if they wish. This is an opportunity to display a poster about completed and/or ongoing research.  Posters will be displayed throughout the conference and a designated session will be scheduled in which participants can meet with authors to discuss their work.  Full instructions on poster formats will be provided to those accepted for presentation.

Special Note on Roundtable Submissions

Roundtables encourage discussion and interaction among delegates.  The roundtable format offers short (max. 10 minute) presentations around a common theme, with ample time for discussion. Proposals should include details on the theme or topic of discussion and its relevance, along with the names of the organizers/participants.  Roundtables can include no more than 5 initial participants.  Please describe what each participant is expected to contribute to the discussion.


Review of Submissions

All submissions will be subject to a blind review by at least two independent reviewers.  

Authors will be advised by the end of January 2016 whether their abstract has been accepted. 


The completed paper must be submitted to the session moderator by June 10, 2016, to allow adequate time for moderators to read the paper.


Post-Conference Publication and Working Paper Opportunities

Following the conference, authors are invited to revise their papers in the light of conference feedback with an eye to an appropriate submission to Voluntas, the peer-reviewed official journal of ISTR, or any other journals in the field.  Publication decisions are the sole discretion of such journals and ISTR does not participate in the editorial decisions on such submissions.

Authors can also submit their papers to be reviewed for selection for publication in the ISTR Conference Working Papers Series to be published after the conference on the ISTR website.

Contact Us

International Society for Third-Sector Research
5801 Smith Avenue
McAuley Hall, Suite 245
Baltimore, MD 21209

Tel:   410-735-4221
Fax:   410-735-4201

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