Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Understanding the Value of Relationships in Developing Sustainable Community Change
by Roeuny, Sondra, Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2017, 179; 10256597
Abstract (Summary)

Since the 1980s, community leadership development programs (CLDPs) across the United States have been developing the capacities of citizens to become effective local leaders. Generally, CLDPs focus on three key areas: building and enhancing the leadership skills of their participants; increasing participants’ awareness and knowledge about their communities; and cultivating the participants’ relationships with each other and with other community leaders. However, when it comes to evaluation studies about the impact of CLDPs, most of the scholarly work has focused on assessing the change in the leadership skills of the programs’ participants. Only limited research focuses on how CLDPs impact the ability of local leaders to work together over time to achieve collective action.

This research study investigated a type of CLDP, the American Leadership Forum-Great Valley Chapter program (ALF-GVC). Through the lens of social network theory and the relational capacity framework, it examined how relationships that are cultivated during the ALF-GVC program impact the ways in which its senior fellows work together to address community issues. Insights from the collective experience of 30 research participants revealed that the ALF-GVC program does impact the relational capacity of its senior fellows. Specifically, evidence supports that the ALF-GVC program helps create a positive internal working environment for senior fellows. The program was associated with increasing the size, diversity, cooperation, and cohesion of the research participants’ networks. As such, by expanding our understanding of how local leaders build relationships and the ways in which those relationships impact how they work together over time to address community issues, the findings from this research study contribute to the literature and practice, all of which can be used to help sustain and strengthen civic engagement in the United States.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Kaminstein, Dana
Commitee: Hosley, David, Sokoloff, Harris J.
School: University of Pennsylvania
Department: Chief Learning Officer
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 78/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, Education, Education philosophy
Keywords: Community change, Community coalitions, Community leadership, Community leadership development programs, Relational capacity, Social networks
Publication Number: 10256597
ISBN: 978-1-369-82737-8
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