Poster Paper: How Does Neighborhood Organizational Life Differ? New Findings from the Chicago Community Networks Survey

Friday, November 4, 2016
Columbia Ballroom (Washington Hilton)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Aurelia Aceves1, Mikael Karlstrom2, Stephen Nuñez1, David Micah Greenberg1, Sarah Schell1 and Edith Yang1, (1)MDRC, (2)University of Chicago

The ways community organizations interact can influence how different racial and ethnic groups become integrated (Gamm 1999), how contentious issues are resolved (Sampson 2013), and how political power is exercised (Laumann, Galaskiewicz and Marsden 1978; Laumann and Pappi 1976). As it relates to public policy, it has also become a truism that organizational context matters for launching community development initiatives (Turner 2014), and also that changing relations among community organizations – whether to make action better-coordinated to solve problems (FSG 2012), or to integrate among different systems (AECF 2015) is a fundamental goal of place-based work. And yet little is known about whether there are in fact differences among neighborhoods as to the essential structure of community organizational life and if these appear associated with implementation outcomes. Without this information, designers and funders of community development initiatives cannot select neighborhoods best able to adopt local improvement programs, and/or who might become the focus of reform efforts.

Social network analysis (SNA) is a particularly important tool to understand the structure of community organizational life and its relationship to implementation outcomes. This paper presents new analyses of the first wave of the Chicago Community Networks (CCN) survey, which interviewed over 300 organizations in nine neighborhoods of varied demographic and organizational composition across the city. Survey data include not only the presence but also the intensity of connections among local and citywide organizations, the domain in which organizations interacted, and various assessments of organizational capacity and implementation strength. Funded by the MacArthur Foundation as a way of assessing the New Communities Program (NCP), one of the largest single-city community development initiatives, the CCN allows for a much deeper investigation of the nature and extent of ties and relations than is often possible through SNA, especially when paired with recent (2015-16) qualitative research with seventy-five Wave 1 survey respondents.

The paper will describe 1) whether neighborhood demographics, network function, and/or network goals are most associated with network density, centralization, and organizational diversity, and 2) how network centralization and network diversity contributes to the implementation of local community development initiatives. Findings are meant to further an understanding of the conditions that are associated with strong and enduring community partnerships around housing, safety, and education, and to provide a deeper empirical basis to literatures of practice related to “collective impact,” “place-conscious” strategies, and “silo-busting” comprehensive community initiatives.