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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Organizing for collective impact in a cradle-to-career network
by Zuckerman, Sarah J., Ph.D., State University of New York at Albany, 2016, 383; 10107099
Abstract (Summary)

This case study provides a thick description and conceptual analysis of the organization of community members for collective impact in a rural cradle-to-career network. This study focused on three intersecting areas: mobilization of network members; the development of shared issue frames, or common understandings of local needs; and the emergent theory of change held by network members.

The literature review encompassed the political science theories of civic capacity and urban regimes, along with the sociological theories of social capital, and social movement issue framing. Based on this review, three research questions guided the study: 1) How do community and organization members mobilize in the development of a rural cradle-to-career network? 2) How do community and organization members frame issues in the development of a rural cradle-to-career network? 3) What are the characteristics of the theory of change?

To answer these questions, a qualitative case study methodology was used. The analysis proceeded deductively from codes derived from the literature review and inductively with codes derived from interpretive field notes and memos, as well as summary reports of site visits. Member checking and peer debriefing safeguarded the findings.

The findings are presented across four chapters. Chapter 4 provides salient details of the network’s social geography. Chapter 5 provides the chronological development of the network, highlighting the development of various groups in the network. Chapter 6 examines the mobilization of individuals at various levels in the network, highlighting the importance of social capital and trust. Chapter 7 provides details on the framing processes and content, as well as the emergent theory of change described by participants. Together, these findings highlight the connection between initial issue framing and the development of action plans.

The final chapter presents five crosscutting conclusions. First, that civic capacity is dynamic in nature, with mobilization and issue framing proceeding iteratively. Second, that trust serves as social glue for mobilization and a lubricant for issue framing. Third, that the legitimacy of a backbone organization, or intermediary organization, supports mobilization and issue framing. Fourth, models for cradle-to-career network must be adapted to local contexts and social geography. Fifth, three types of leaders help to explain the progressive development of the Grand Isle Network.

This study gave rise to several important implications for policy, practice, and research. For example, policymakers should weigh implementation fidelity of cradle-to-career networks with the need to adapt models to local contexts, based on mapping community assets and geography. Implications for practice included the need to identify a legitimate backbone organization with intermediary leaders to serve as a center for mobilization and to drive issue framing. Implications for future research start with the need to critically examine how issues are framed and in particular, who is doing the framing.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Lawson, Hal A., Schiller, Kathryn S.
Commitee: Wilcox, Kristen C.
School: State University of New York at Albany
Department: Educational Administration and Policy Studies
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 77/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Political science, Sociology
Keywords: Civic capacity, Collective impact, Cradle-to-career, Network, Rural, Social capital
Publication Number: 10107099
ISBN: 978-1-339-70504-0
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