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There has been a rapid expansion in the role and s1ze of the housing association sector in England since 1979, driven by changes in policy agendas. In the past ten years the problem of 'low demand' housing has also been an issue for housing providers in certain areas of the North and Midlands. Attention has been drawn to the asset management strategies of housing associations, however relatively little is known about the process by which stock investment decisions are made. This thesis investigates the decision-making behaviour of three housing associations, with a focus upon power and knowledge in the decision making process. Using the context of asset management and low demand housing it examines how and why decisions are made within the three case studies. Drawing on two decision-making models, the political-bureaucratic (Pettigrew\ud 1973) and behaviourist (Cyert and March 1992) models, the study develops an analytical framework derived from Foucault's relational concept of power and Clegg's 'circuits of power'.\ud
By adopting a qualitative approach the research explores current decision-making practices through the use of semi-structured interviews, focus groups and documentary analysis. The empirical evidence suggests that the concept of power is integral to understanding how decisions are framed and then made. However, power is a complex concept and housing associations are devising their asset management strategies in a shifting external environment. Different agencies are significant, depending on the commercial strength, geographical base, scale and degree of maturity of the association in question. The analytical framework enables power to be traced within each case study\ud through examining the organisational tactics and 'game playing' in place. But it also identifies constraints with the 'relational' concept of power, suggesting that where\ud power resides is also important.\ud
Power is also closely linked to knowledge, and each case study used information selectively as an expression of power relations. In response to the greater commercialisation of the sector housing associations' approach to asset management is changing. Some are grasping at these opportunities, whereas others are finding such\ud pressures in tension with their original mission. Some larger associations are becoming 'learning organisations' and it is anticipated that the more successful agencies in this group will become increasingly autonomous from the Housing Corporation and other regulatory bodies in their approach to asset management due to these changes.