From the Network’s Journal, Human Service Organizations: Management, Leadership, & Governance

Winner of 2014 Slavin-Patti Award for Practice Research

Kristen Gilmore Powell & N. Andrew Peterson (2014). Pathways to Effectiveness in Substance Abuse Prevention: Empowering Organizational Characteristics of Community-Based Coalitions, Human Service Organizations. 38(5), 471-486.

In their well-designed and executed study, Powell and Peterson make an important contribution that furthers our understanding about community-based coalitions and the factors that contribute to their effectiveness. Using data from a unique survey of substance abuse coalition participants, Powell and Peterson demonstrate how leadership directly effects opportunity role structure, group-based belief system, and sense of community, and these empowering intra-organizational characteristics not only increase perceptions of coalition effectiveness, they also foster a sense of community, which further strengthens coalition performance. Moreover, the authors show that intrapersonal psychological empowerment of individuals plays a key role, combining with organizational-level empowerment factors to enhance coalition effectiveness. This article is commendable for its theoretically-driven, robust analysis that not only makes a contribution to the scholarly literature but also offers useful insights for those working in the substance abuse prevention field and in the broader social work practice community. The virtue of this article is that the findings can be generalized beyond substance abuse prevention coalitions to contribute to the development or fostering of coalitions working on other social issues that might be addressed through a coalition approach.

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About the Author:

Kelly LeRoux, HSO Editorial Board Member, conducts research on nonprofits’ voter mobilization and political advocacy activities and also studies issues of nonprofit performance, accountability, and networks. Her research has been published in more than a dozen public and nonprofit management journals including Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Journal of Public Administration
Research and Theory, Public Administration Review, Journal Urban Affairs, and Administration & Society.