Privatization and marketization have been introduced in early childhood education and care (ECEC) in many countries in the past decades. In the same time window, cultural and linguistic diversity has increased strongly, challenging countries to ensure equal opportunities for all children. To prevent or reduce early education gaps, public subsidies have been introduced in privatized ECEC systems to provide disadvantaged children with high quality education and care, increasing the hybridity of the system. The present study examined within an organization-sociological framework whether ECEC centers, seen as organizations, reveal different ways of adapting to system hybridity, taking the hybrid ECEC system of the Netherlands as a case in point. More specifically, the study examined whether different types of organizations emerged after successive privatization, marketization and harmonization reforms and how these organization types relate to the quality of care and education provided. Using cluster analysis on a sample of 127 ECEC centers, both for-profit and not-for profit, four organizational configurations were identified that differed strongly on several indicators of quality, including observed process quality. ECEC centers characterized as engaged not-for-profit professional organizations outperformed the centers of the other types on virtually all measures of interest. The findings are discussed with regard to the question how privatized and marketized hybrid ECEC systems can be governed to serve public goals optimally.
- early childhood education and care
- system hybridity
- organizational configurations
- missionary organizations
- process quality