Community organizations and the governing capability of Indianapolis neighborhoods
Indianapolis, Indiana is reknown for innovations in local governing. In his first term in office, Mayor Goldsmith began a process to reorganize the means by which city services are delivered, to identify a possible role that neighborhood organizations might play in alternative delivery options, and to integrate neighborhood and community organizations into the city-county's system of governance. In order to determine whether such additional responsibilities for neighborhood organizations are warranted, I seek to answer the following preliminary question: What are the factors (and the interactions among them) that predict the effectiveness of neighborhood organizations?
In order to answer this question, I develop a conceptual framework to evaluate the characteristics of neighborhood organizations that might explain their effectiveness. The framework follows the logic of a process model using variables found in numerous neighborhood studies. Effectiveness is viewed as a function of organizational operations, which is itself a function of organizational structure and the environment within which it operates.
Using a path analytic technique, I test a series of hypotheses drawn from the works of scholars in sociology, political science, and public administration, as well as from personal field observations. Data were collected on 117 neighborhood organizations throughout the county using organizational surveys, household survey data, elite interviews, census data, and personal field notes.
Generally, the analysis suggests that relatively few of the effects of an organization's environment and structure on effectiveness are mediated by operations variables such as issue representation, participation, contacts with governmental officials, or activity levels. Rather, environmental and structure characteristics such as neighborhood socio-economic status and rule formalization exhibit influence on effectiveness independent of their effects on operations.
Finally, I present three sets of recommendations. The first set is targeted at helping organizational members design their groups in ways that maximize effectiveness within the context they operate. The second set includes policy recommendations regarding the advisability of using neighborhood organizations in the fashion suggested by the Goldsmith Administration. The final set of recommendations is aimed at refining future neighborhood studies based upon the findings from Indianapolis.
Area planning & development
0999: Urban planning
0999: Area planning & development