Document Text (Pages 51-60) Back to Document

Community Capacity and Governance – New Approaches to Development and Evaluation

by Banyai, Cindy Lyn, PhD

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Figure - The Chaskin Framework

Source: Chaskin et al., 2001


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4.1. Characteristics of Community Capacity
4.1.1. Sense of Community

The characteristics of community capacity are sense of community, commitment, ability to
solve problems, and access to resources (Chaskin et al., 2001, p. 12). These characteristics are
the basic descriptions of capacity that a community can have. They are the starting point for
describing community capacity. Community capacity building efforts seek to enhance these
characteristics in order to improve community functions and to reach other community

The first community capacity characteristic is sense of community. The sense of community
illustrates a connectedness between community members and the recognition of a mutuality of
circumstance (Miyoshi & Stenning, 2008) and includes collectively held values, norms, and
vision (Chaskin et al., 2001, p. 14). McMillan (1976, as quoted in McMillan & George, 1986)
elaborates upon the definition of sense of community as “a feeling that members have a
belonging, a feeling that members matter to one another and the group, and a shared faith that the
members' needs will be met through their commitment to be together (p. 9)." Sense of
community has also been defined as a social environmental characteristic of place that has
affective, cognitive and behavioral components (including reciprocity) (Pretty, Chipuer, &
Bramston, 2003, as cited in Boyd et al., 2006, p. 190). The Pretty and colleagues definition more
broadly describes the various other definitions of sense of community.

Sense of community is important because it builds community attachment, which requires an
“adherence to a set of shared values, norms, and meaning, usually as the result of a shared
history and local identity (Figueira-McDonough, 2001, p. 20).” Sense of community reflects the
shared social capital in the community and is highly related to the trust that community members
have in one another. This social trust contributes to the development of social norms, and
participation and cooperation (Putnam, 1993, p. 171). The development of this type of collective
identity is also important in order to solve for the “free-rider” problem in participation (Miller,
1992, p. 33). Without a sense of community people will have a propensity to take advantage of
one another, leading to corruption and public lethargy (Bowman, 1935, p. 924).

There are four basic elements of sense of community, according to McMillan and George
(1986): a) membership, b) influence, c) reinforcement - integration and fulfillment of needs, and
d) shared emotional connection (p. 9). Sense of community can also been displayed through
shared myths, symbols, rituals, rites, ceremonies, and holidays (McMillan & George, 1986, p.
10). Common language, dress, and customs can also promote sense of community (McMillan &
George, 1986, p. 11). All of these factors help to identify membership. McMillan and George
(1986) also describe five attributes of membership: - a) boundaries, b) emotional safety, c) a
sense of belonging and identity, d) personal investment, and e) common symbol system
(McMillan & George, 1986, p. 11.).

Members of the community must have some voice, as well as be affected by the community
and its members (McMillan & George, 1986, p. 11). This consensual validation contributes to
conforming behavior and creates norms (McMillan & George, 1986, p. 11). Although
cooperative behavior can occur without discussion and group identity, without it, self-serving
interests can supersede (Miller, 1992, p. 33). This influence must be exerted through personal
interaction for maximum effectiveness (Miller, 1992, p. 33).

Part of the shared emotional connection in sense of community is a sense of belonging,
which involves the feeling, belief, and expectation that one fits in the groups and has a place


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there, as well as a feeling of acceptance and willingness to sacrifice for the group (McMillan
1976, as cited in McMillan & George, 1986, p. 10). Having a sense of belonging to a group
promotes commitment in terms of sacrifice and investment (McMillan & George, 1986, p. 15),
which makes it an important part of sense of community and community capacity. Again,
McMillan and George (1986) include investment and commitment as a part of sense of
community, whereas Chaskin and colleagues (2001) separated them into two different
characteristics of community capacity. Given the complexity of McMillan and George’s version
of sense of community, the separation made by Chaskin and colleagues seems natural and
appropriate, especially for constructing analytical frameworks.

4.1.2. Commitment

Significant community development can only take place when local people are committed to
investing themselves and their resources to that development (Kretzman & McKnight, 1993, p.
5). Commitment in terms of community capacity is when actors see themselves as stakeholders
in the community and are willing to take action and participate as such (Chaskin et al., 2001, p.
15). Having a strong sense of community leads to commitment, particularly in terms of
willingness to invest time and resources to collective action, as discussed earlier (see also Felp &
Volker, 2004, p. 6). In order to have commitment, there must be trust (Cohen & Prusak, 2001, p.
51), demonstrating the relationship between the community capacity characteristic of
commitment and social capital.

Participation is an outcome and an indicator of commitment (Figueira-McDonough, 2001, p.
20). The work that actors in a community must do to truly gain membership provides them with
the feeling that they have rightly earned a place in the community, making their attachment more
meaningful and valuable (McMillan & George, 1986, p. 10). Through participation and
collective action community actors can make their more responsive to their needs and desires, as
well as begin to cultivate greater satisfaction, greater cohesion, and ownership (McMillan &
George, 1986, p. 13). High levels of commitment to the community compel further investment of
resources and action outside typical social norms or mandates (Figueira-McDonough, 2001, p.
24). In turn, these investments fortify the obligations that actors in the community have to one
another (Bourdieu, 2002, p. 287). However, commitment may not be developed or perpetuated
if there is no reinforcement or benefit from community investment or participation (McMillan &
George, 1986, p. 12).

4.1.3. Ability to Solve Problems

The ability of a community to solve problems is the visible manifestation of a community’s
capacity. A community must be able to translate its commitment into action in order for it to be
said that a community has capacity in this respect (Chaskin et al., 2001, p. 16). This
characteristic of community capacity speaks both to the ability of individuals and organizations
to solve for problems that they incur, but most importantly it refers to the ability of the
community to work through and overcome problems collectively.

4.1.4. Access to Resources


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The final characteristic of community capacity in the Chaskin Framework is the access to
resources. The access to resource represents a community’s ability to obtain resources. The
resources of a community can include economic, human, physical, and political resources
(Chaskin et al,. 2001, p. 16). These resources can be found within the community or through the
various types of networks that actors in the community form. In fact, it is important to maintain
external links to ensure access to resources (Figueira-McDonough, 2001, p. 34). However,
community capacity is enhance when resources inside and outside of the community can be
readily accessed (Zacharakis & Flora, 2005, p. 302). Some ways that resources can be harnessed
for community capacity and development include financial investments in community projects
by privileged community actors, the payment of taxes by community members, and the creation
of innovative mechanisms for channeling resources to community initiatives (Zacharakis &
Flora, 2005, p. 302).

4.2. Levels of Social Agency

The three levels of social agency in a community are individuals, organizations, and
networks of association (Chaskin et al., 2001, p. 19). The levels of social agency describe the
types actors through which community capacity functions to produce action and outcomes. The
actors in social agency can represent real people, such as elected leaders or bureaucrats, and they
also may be structures, interests, international regimes, or policy networks (Pierre & Peters,
2000, p. 7). Furthermore, it is important that all of the actors in a community recognize the
necessity and value of one another because they are all needed to make policy work because no
single actor has all the relevant knowledge or resources to make the policy effective (Rhodes,
1997, p. 50).

Individual social agents can be local leaders and other people within the community and their
participation in community activities. The individual level of social agency concerns the human
capital and leadership of individual residents of a community, as well as their skills, knowledge,
resources, and participation in community activities. Individuals and their ability to leverage
social change become particularly important in this study due to the nascent functioning of other
community organizations and the difficulty with networking in a developing community.

Organizations can also be social agents within a community. Examples of organizational
social agents include community-based organizations, local businesses, schools, and small local
groups. These groups can collectively evoke change within a community and spur other
individuals and organizations into action when necessary.

The network level of social agency describes the relationships between individuals, informal
groups, as well as formal organizations. Networks as social agents can also be considered a part
of social capital, because they allow people to broaden their scope and resource attainment
capabilities. Social capital is a key component of community capacity which can be seen in part
through the network level of social agency.

4.3. Community Functions and Other Outcomes

Community functions are the activities that community capacity promotes a community to
perform (Chaskin et al., 2001, p. 22). It is a greater amount of community functions that
community capacity building efforts seek to achieve. The Chaskin Framework describes
community functions as a) planning, decision making and governance, b) the production of


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goods and services, c) information dissemination, and d) organization and advocacy.
Community functions can include routine tasks such as local budgeting, governance, and
planning, as well as problem-solving and community improvement initiatives.

The outcomes of community functioning are a more sustainable community capacity overall
and specific desirable community conditions (Chaskin et al., 2001, p. 22). It is at this point that
the concept of community capacity becomes cyclical (greater community capacity leads to
greater community functioning, which leads to greater community capacity), so it becomes
difficult to understand where to begin to build community capacity. Once a community is
functioning appropriately they can hope to reach the other outcomes of better services, greater
influence on public policy decision-making, and economic well-being (Chaskin et al., 2001, p.
23). Interestingly, the Chaskin Framework puts economic well-being as another outcome (6),
rather than a primary function, indicating that the authors’ emphasis is on quality of life and
social well-being.

4.4. Conditioning Influences

The actual level of capacity that can be accrued by a community is determined by its context
– social, economic, and political (Gariba, 1998, p. 73; Grogan, 1981, p. 652). Analyzing the
conditioning influences (also referred to as the enabling environment) in a community is a
prudent step in the development of policy, in addition to assessing its community capacity
(UNDP, 1997, p. 23, WB, 2002, p. 2). It is important that policy and development strategies be
tailored to the specific context in which they are being implemented; however, the local context
is often overlooked because it is taken as a given and most local participants give it little explicit
thought (Gittel & Vidal, 1998, p. 171), therefore making it difficult for them to articulate to those
that may be interested in helping them formulate their local policy.

The conditioning influences on a community are not directly related to community capacity,
but rather, these factors can affect the ability and manifestation of community capacity. The
conditioning influences rely partially on the idea of Maslow’s (Maslow, 1968) hierarchy of
needs: people need to have their basic needs met before they can begin to engage in anything
beyond mere livelihood activities. These are the basic factors of life in the community that
cannot necessarily be changed through mere capacity building activities and are taken as the
inherent circumstances. The conditioning influences are identified as safety, residential stability,
density of acquaintance, structure of opportunity, patterns of migration, race and class dynamics,
and the distribution of power and resources (Chaskin et al., 2001, p. 24).

Safety is the relative security that people in the community feel. Feelings of security can
include the general safety and freedom from crime or oppression that people feel, as well as their
ability to consistently live their lives as they wish. These factors tend to engage the thoughts of
community residents, as well as represent some of the most basics needs and conditions for
human comfort, and therefore impact upon the willingness and ability of community members to
participate in community activities (Chaskin et al., 2001, p. 24).

Residential stability refers to how long members of the community have been there and how
long they are willing to stay. Residential stability affects the amount of sense of community that
can develop in a community, because it promotes the growth of bridging capital, which in turn
increases social cohesion and enhances the likelihood of participation (Chaskin et al., 2001, p.
23). Transience in a community is a major predictor of community disorganization leading to
low social integration and various community problems (Figueira-McDonough, 2001, p. 30).


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This is because trust and reciprocal behavior develop over time in a relationship and residential
instability does not lend itself to such relationship building (Figueira-McDonough, 2001, p. 35).
Residential stability further develops the density of acquaintance and is affected by migration.

The density of acquaintance is a reflection of the depth and quality of the relationships and
trust among members in a community. Heavy inflows and outflows of people in a community
affect the levels of trust and quality of relationships that people can engage in and therefore the
levels of cooperation that can be achieved in a community. This is because the longer that people
have the opportunity to get to know one another the higher the likelihood that they will trust one
another, which in turns affects levels of cooperation and collaboration (Chaskin et al., 2001, p.

The structure of opportunity reflects the ability which members of the community have to
gain and pursue opportunities (Chaskin et al., 2001, p. 24). This can encompass either sociopolitical
constraints or economic and class constraints, as well as necessary relationships (such as
patronage) that affect the way in which members of the community have access to opportunities.

Migration and movements of people to, from, and within a community directly affects the
residential stability and the density of acquaintance of a community (Chaskin et al., 2001, p. 24).
This makes migration a volatile factor of community capacity and worth considering in the
development of policy and community capacity building.

Race and class dynamics describe the relationship between various groups within a
community. This divisiveness within a community can become a problem with community
capacity and community capacity building, as well as potential flashpoints during times of
upheaval within the community. The factor of race and class dynamics needs to be taken into
consideration in an effort to better understand the social structure of the community (Freidmann,
1992, p. 7), as well as to note and avoid potential issues during community capacity building

The distribution of power and resources and the structure of opportunity within a community
represent the social dynamics of the community in relation to resources and social mobility.
Skewed distribution of power and resources can create or reflect rifts within a community and
can affect the way that a community functions. They operate at many levels within the
community and can be influenced by age, ethnicity, income, (Chaskin et al., 2001, p. 24)
relationships or various other factors. The distribution of power also affects who can participate
and influence policy, and their incorporation as a full participating member is a right worth
pursuing (Friedmann, 1992, p. 11). Since power is associated with obtaining resources and so is
community capacity, it is worth noting these separations and distributions within a community to
facilitate community capacity development, rather than further perpetuate unequal power

4.5. Importance of Community Capacity

Community capacity is not static, it fluctuates over time and is affected by past experiences
and affects future abilities to work toward a common goal (Mendis-Millard & Reed, 2007, p.
554). This is part of the bi-directional nature of community capacity. It can be cultivated
through consorted efforts of members of the community and can diminish without care; however
the fact that there was some level of community capacity at some point in time can be drawn
upon to rekindle its strength.


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Community capacity is influenced by governance and politics at multiple levels (Mendis-
Millard & Reed, 2007, p. 554). This further emphasizes the need to recognize the importance of
community capacity and the holistic nature of community systems to improve the effectiveness
of policy.

Community capacity can be both built and assessed through the creation of dialogue between
various segments of a community and through the provision of a forum for reflection on the
situation in their community and the future directions they would like it to take (Mendis-Millard
& Reed, 2007, p. 555-556).

Community capacity building has been criticized as not addressing all aspects of holistic
development adequately, but that does not mean that community capacity analysis should be
discarded as a useful framework. Researchers and practitioners recognize that community
capacity frameworks may be limited in scope and not serve the needs of the context to which
they are applied, so there is often an accompanying emphasis on proactive community
participation while researching or applying community capacity building strategies (Mendis-
Millard & Reed, 2007, p. 556).

Furthermore, the conditioning influences inherent in a community that affect community
capacity continuously are taken into consideration in community capacity analysis and should
be reflected in capacity building efforts. There is a continued necessity to better understand
community capacity to design better frameworks for its analysis (McMillan & George, 1986, p.
12; Mendis-Millard & Reed, 2007, p. 256).

Chapter Five highlights some cases of rural development from Japan and are analyzed using
an abridged framework of community capacity. These cases demonstrate each of the
components of community capacity described in this literature review. Specifically, each of the
cases from Japan delve into the meaning of each of the community capacity characteristics (also
described as attributes), the agents and the leadership needed to progress community capacity,
and the actions that are achievable through community capacity building. The cases also
demonstrate that with a clearer framework and more proactive and precise terminology a better
understanding and analysis of community capacity can be rendered.

The case of community capacity analysis in Pagudpud (Chapter Seven and Chapter Eight)
uses the framework proposed in Chapter Five in a real time trial assessment. This progresses the
concept further, as well as demonstrates that the abridged framework can be a useful public
administration and community capacity building tool.

5. Community Capacity Building Strategies

Community capacity building strategies can be constructed to complement any development
approach, but most consistently fit in with the alternative development approach due to its
emphasis on local people and participation. Capacity building of local stakeholders has been
widely recognized as a necessary part of successful development initiatives (Grindle, 1990, p.
222; Lennie, 2006, p. 350; McGuire et al., 1994, p. 432). Community capacity development
focuses both on individuals and organizations in a community (UNDP, 1997, p. 1; Saegert, 2005,
p. 12). These strategies are conceived to have benefits to those that directly participate in them,
as well as the community in which they are situated. The holistic approach taken in community
capacity building strategies departs slightly from the typically sub-group targeted or ad hoc
capacity building strategies sometimes incorporated into development and poverty alleviation


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The UNDP (1997) defines capacity development as the process by which individuals,
organizations, institutions and societies develop abilities (individually and collectively) to
perform functions, solve problems and set and achieve objectives (p. 3; see also Jahan, 2005, p.
3). The UNDP definition embodies some of the same dispositions as the Chaskin and colleagues
definition of community capacity. With a small modification on the UNDP definition,
community capacity building can be defined as the process by which individuals, organizations,
and institutions in a community develop abilities to facilitate the development of community

The UNDP also outlines some targets for capacity development: a) individuals, b) entities, c)
interrelationships between entities, d) enabling environments, e) natural environments, and f)
institutional, sociopolitical, economic and natural resources management (UNDP, 1997, pp. 3-6).
The Chaskin Framework presents four different categories of community capacity building
strategies that can be used to ensure that a policy structure fosters community capacity. These
strategies are 1) leadership development, 2) organizational development, 3) community
organizing, and 4) inter-organizational collaboration (Chaskin et al., 2001, p. 25).

There are many similarities between the UNDP approaches and the Chaskin Framework
strategies. The management and individual capacity building are undertaken in leadership
development. Organizations build capacity through organizational development and
relationships between entities are developed through inter-organizational collaboration.
Community organizing deals with facilitating the enabling environment, as well as empowering
people to become involved in their community. The only part of the UNDP capacity
development approaches that is not addressed by the Chaskin Framework it the natural
environment, which falls somewhat out of the realm of community capacity building. Through
consideration of these dimensions while constructing policy, community capacity can be built
and more successful and sophisticated outcomes can be achieved. These categories are broad
ways in which development and capacity building strategies can be conceptualized and are
discussed further in the following subsections.

Through implementing a community capacity building strategy there will be a higher chance
of successful returns in the community and the institutionalization of capacity because there is an
investment in the knowledge, skills, and the relationships of people, rather than just a
technological or capital infusion, which may or may not have long-term benefits (Honadle, 1981,
p 579). It should be recognized that community capacity building is an ongoing process, but
appropriate interventions can help direct and motivate the building of community capacity
(Balassanian, 2006, p. 26; Bogenschneider, 1996, p. 136; Kirk & Shutte, 2004, p. 238). Utilizing
the idea that people should be able to control the situation around them and, in fact, the people
themselves are in the best position to make such decisions, community capacity development
paradigms emerged to facilitate the performance of community functions.

Community capacity can be developed to further the outcomes of a community and improve
the overall condition of the community. This is because community actions become more
sophisticated through policy interventions and projects that involve the community (Saegert,
2005; Mendis-Millard & Reed, 2007; Miyoshi & Stenning, 2008). Such strategies can be
constructed as independent interventions or incorporated as components of a policy structure.
Furthermore, community capacity development is both a means and an end for human
development and community development (Jahan, 2005, p. 3; UNDP, 1997, p. 12; Saegert, 2005,
p. 38).


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In order to make local-level policy structure more effective, community capacity should be
considered, incorporated, and integrated into the general policy. To undertake this, community
capacity must be assessed in order to formulate policy that will best suit human development and
the community situation (Dokecki, 1983; Hobbs et al., 1984; Jahan, 2005; McMillan & George,
1986; UNDP 1997). Once a clear and up-to-date assessment of the capacity of a community is
made, it can be used to guide decision-making.

Involving stakeholders in the process of planning and evaluation for capacity building can
serve as a learning opportunity for all involved fostering the development of even more
community capacity (Balassanian, 2006, p. 26; Jahan, 2005, p. 3). Using a participatory process
in the development of community capacity building strategies also helps to contextualize the
policies and interventions, as well as to take a more holistic approach, which is important to
address the multiple unique characteristics in a community that may affect the policy
(Bogenschneider, 1996, p. 128). Community capacity development is about change and there is
a need for leadership and commitment, as well as the institutionalization of participation and
learning (Jahan, 2005, p. 3; UNDP, 1997, p. 10). In addition to involving stakeholders in a
participatory process to design specific community capacity building initiatives, it is also
important to consider and activate the endogenous skills and capacity that a community already
is endowed with (Ray, 2006, p. 272; UNDP, 1997, p. 7).

Community capacity building strategies seek to not only fortify the abilities of their target
groups, but to also develop the social capital necessary for long term growth. Although social
capital can be built naturally, the development of rich networks that include more social, political
and economic capital power often results from policy and interventions (Saegert, 2005, p. 10).
This is particularly important because the indicator of success of a community capacity building
initiative is the increased ability for the community to form interests and goals, develop shared
agendas, and to act collectively (Saegert, 2005, p. 35). Networks within and extending out of the
community are necessary to achieve this.

The following subsections discuss in detail the various community capacity building
strategies that are identified in the Chaskin Framework. First, leadership development is
discussed, followed by organizational development. Community organizing is then presented
with a special look at empowerment. The last subsection about community capacity building
strategies focuses on inter-organizational collaboration. The local policy structure of Pagudpud
is examined in relation to community capacity building strategies in the beginning of Chapter
Seven. That policy structure examination identifies several projects that are being undertaken in
the community and how they are related to the community capacity building strategies. The
analysis of Pagudpud’s policy structure helps to progress the concept of community capacity
building strategies and to identify how they can be incorporated into a multi-faceted policy

5.1. Leadership Development

Leadership is a complex phenomenon that is present in any context where people are charged
with accomplishing some goal or task. It can be found in classrooms, courtrooms, households,
companies, or sports teams. Each form of leadership arises from particular situations, as well as
the needs and desires of the group members. Many researchers, pundits, managers, and
developers have tried to define leadership, but ultimately there is not very much consensus on
what precisely it is (Barker, 1997; Northouse, 2004; Stogdill, 1974), or how to foster it.


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Leadership has been broadly conceptualized to contain the following components: a) process, b)
influence, c) a group context, and d) goal attainment (Northouse, 2004, p.3). This contemporary
definition synthesizes the main components of many previous authors’ views on leadership,
which focus on the traits of individuals (Angell, 1951, p. 152; Bonjean & Olsen, 1964; Morris &
Seeman, 1950, p. 149).

The conceptualization offered by Northouse (2004) offers the view that leadership does not
specifically have to be defined through the actions of an individual. However, leadership is a
responsibility that individual people must undertake (Kime, 2001, p. 10). Therefore, leadership
development can target individuals, organizations, or the community at large. The main concept
of leadership development is to produce a group of capable individuals, whether they stand alone
or act on behalf of an organization that can direct a process to influence a group to reach their

Leadership development involves cultivating the skills, commitment, engagement, and
effectiveness of people (Chaskin et al., 2001, p. 25). It includes skill training and the provision
of opportunities for community members to participate and establish relationships with their
peers and other stakeholders (Millar & Kirkpatrick, 2005, p. 21). Leaders are also developed
through participation in community building activities (Zacharakis & Flora, 2005, p. 304). This
means that community capacity building through leadership development can be incorporated as
an outcome through having a wide breadth of participation in any type of community
development initiative. However, direct interventions can be effective in developing leadership
(Millar & Kirkpatrick, 2005, p. 28). The leadership skills that are developed through such
interventions are then used in the community (Wituk, Ealey, Clark, Heiny, & Meissen, 2005, p.

Often, however, those who participate in leadership development programs are people who
already see themselves as leaders (Zacharakis & Flora, 2005, p. 303). Therefore, there must be
incentives and programs designed to reach potential leaders (Zacharakis & Flora, 2005, p. 303),
not only those already possessing leadership skills and authority. It is most difficult to engage
potential leaders from sectors of the community that have typically been excluded and
disempowered (Zacharakis & Flora, 2005, p. 304).

In order for leadership development to be successful, the individual leaders must recognize
that good leadership is virtuous and a good leader leads by example to formulate mutual trust,
rather than through force (Cohen & Prusak, 2001, pp. 41, 44).

The development of leadership in a community can contribute to the creation of a new sense
of shared identity, a key component of sense of community, as well as the recognition among
participants of their current and potential future role in the community (Millar & Kirkpatrick,
2005, p. 28). Leadership skills are not particularly difficult for participants to learn, and while
the skills may not be employed confidently by all participants in a leadership development
intervention, participants can see their benefits and use them when necessary in their community
(Wituk et al., 2005, p. 98).

5.2. Organizational Development

Organizational development is the creation or strengthening of local organizations (Chaskin
et al., 2001, p. 25). Developing organizations in a community increases the prevalence and
sophistication of organizations, as well as their activities. Target organizations can include local


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