Community Organizations: Studies in Resource Mobilization and Exchange

By Carl Milofsky | Go to book overview

dominant symbolic component. There are unique opportunities for influence when analysts reconceive their role and explicitly tackle the job of exploring connections between symbol and substance. For example, researchers can evaluate the internal and external political outcomes of a program in addition to the financial or professional results. Documentation of accomplishments such as reassurance or justification may be valuable for program administrators trying to keep their agencies afloat, as well as for high level policy makers trying to make sensible choices about resource allocation.

Research can examine the ways in which a project's larger objectives (for example, holistic, comprehensive care) can and cannot be effectively translated into organizational practice. As well as evaluating whether a given program succeeded in bringing about more coordination, researchers might also evaluate the extent to which the program's activities led to the achievement of basic goals--more clients receiving multiple (comprehensive) services, lower per-client costs, higher staff morale, easier client access to services, or whatever. Sensitivity to these larger goals of the human service system may also enhance the value of research to decision makers operating in this policy arena.

In a less conventional mode, thoughtful research can remind practitioners, administrators, clients, and the public about the goals and values we express and can perhaps reinforce such symbolic commitments even in the face of the frustration of the moment. In a variety of ways, research has helped us to understand the distance between what we hope for and what we do. Inpart it allows us to discover when and sometimes why we do not achieve our goals; in part it helps us to make explicit the nature of our values and commitments to each other.

Understanding the symbol and the substance may dispel some of the muddled thinking about coordination. Clarity about the values embedded in coordination programs may help to keep alive our hopes for comprehensive, compassionate, cost-effective treatment, even when the coordination star eventually fades. Clarity about the role of political and organizational factors; attention to professional, administrative, and political costs of coordination; and consideration of when benefits are likely to outweigh costs all may help to keep the value implications of coordination from confusing the planning and management of substantive programs. It is useful to keep the two untangled or at least to have some sense of the tradeoffs between them. Regardless of the evidence, and for some excellent reasons, we continue to seek more and better coordination. But for the time being it seems sensible to be realistic about what our pursuit of coordination can and cannot accomplish.


NOTES
1.
This paper first appeared in Policy Analysis 7, 2, ( 1981), 21-45, © ( 1981 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, Reprinted by permission of John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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Community Organizations: Studies in Resource Mobilization and Exchange
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Yale Studies on Nonprofit Organizations ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Series Foreword v
  • Preface ix
  • Contents xiii
  • Contributors xv
  • Introduction Networks, Markets, Culture, and Contracts - Understanding Community Organizations 3
  • Notes 12
  • 1 - Scarcity and Community 16
  • Notes 38
  • 2 - A Theory of Voluntary Organization 42
  • Notes 70
  • 3 - The Iron Cage Revisited 77
  • Notes 94
  • 4 - Substance Versus Symbol in Administrative Reform 100
  • Notes 116
  • 5 - The Corporation-Culture Connection 119
  • Notes 133
  • 6 - United Charities an Economic Analysis 136
  • Notes 150
  • 7 - The United Way 157
  • Notes 168
  • 8 170
  • Notes 180
  • 9 - Structure and Process in Community Self-Help Organizations 183
  • Notes 211
  • 10 - The Structure of Funding Arenas for Neighborhood Based Organizations 217
  • Notes 240
  • 11 - Local Communities and Organized Action 243
  • Notes 273
  • Appendix the New World Survey of Community Self-Help Organizations 277
  • Notes 283
  • Index 285
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