A narrative exploration of personal factors and organizational contexts in the development of local leadership

Kristine Leigh Chadwick, University of Rhode Island


This dissertation analyzed the factors contributing to the development of leadership in voluntary community organizations, created as part of a community-level substance abuse prevention project known as the Partnership, and explored the role of intermediary support organizations in nurturing the development of community leaders. Through interviews with team leaders and staff from the support organization, and analysis of program records, this research examined the empowering of individuals and the development of empowering organizations. ^ The development of local leaders in neighborhood, grassroots, or other voluntary organizations has received little attention until recently. Previous studies of empowerment of local leaders have noted the importance of mentors, yet the process through which intermediary organizations that assist in the growth and maintenance of voluntary organizations may encourage the development of local leaders through technical assistance and mentoring relationships has not been adequately explored. Using a case study approach, the current study examined the process of leader development in these voluntary organizations and the role of intermediary organizations in that development. The present research uncovered initial conditions, themes, critical incidents, and contextual factors that were influential in the development of local leadership. ^ The findings generally supported Kieffer's (1984) stages of empowerment, although when leaders and members were part of an empowering organization, distinctions between members and leaders became less clear as both sets of individuals progressed through many of Kieffer's “eras”. ^ Tensions between different philosophies of community development held by the project director and the principal investigator may have affected leader development because of the mixed messages sent to team members and leaders. Often in community development efforts, there exists a tension between priorities toward service provision versus building community capacity through knowledge and skill development of residents thereby decreasing reliance on outside experts. This tension was very evident in the different models advocated by the project director and the principal investigator. The two models perhaps produce separate sets of outcomes in the development of leaders. The strong program focus that resulted may have hampered the development of community leaders who served as advocates to the broader community and beyond, although administrative competencies were enhanced. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Industrial

Recommended Citation

Kristine Leigh Chadwick, "A narrative exploration of personal factors and organizational contexts in the development of local leadership" (2004). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI3135895.