How organizations promote a sense of community and empowerment leading towards community participation: A view of the middle

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Southern New Hampshire University
Community Development Corporations (CDC) are organizations which develop affordable housing, jobs and small businesses in communities. The purpose of this study was to determine the extent to which staff and board of CDCs in Indianapolis, Indiana participated in the community because of a sense of community and empowerment within and outside a CDC. Much of the literature examined participation from the community member perspective. As such, the importance of this study was to understand the gap in the research literature surrounding community development professionals and their community participation. Little research has been conducted on the participation by organizational members in CDCs. Understanding the empowering processes within and outside a community organization might help to predict the participation of these organizational members. In addition to empowerment, the organizational sense of community that CDCs facilitated for their members can help predict participation of members. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between intra and extraorganizational empowering processes, sense of community and the citizen participation from the perspective of organizational members of CDCs. A survey of 78 CDC staff and board of the Indianapolis Coalition for Neighborhood Development was conducted. Scales measured the relationship between a member’s CDCs participation in the community and the perceptions of intraorganizational and extraorganizational empowering processes. A correlational analysis was conducted to assess the community organization sense of community, the processes of empowering organization and citizen participation. Analysis was conducted to understand the extent to which community organization sense of community and/or processes of empowering organization helped to predict the participation in the sample. Results suggested an association between the CDC’s sense of community and citizen participation. In addition, the results suggested an association between the extraorganizational empowering process, as measured by a number of social capital and community investment activities, and participation. Moreover, extraorganizational empowerment processes were able to predict the levels of board and staff participation. Findings suggested that processes outside the CDC contribute significantly to the participation of CDC board and staff members. Further exploration of policy, practice, education and research concerning the implications of the study is suggested. (Author abstract)