Research Paper: Theory Whether Formal, Every Group

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¶ … Theory

Whether formal, every group has a structure regardless of the nature of their activity or the length of time they have been together (Freeman, 1970). Whether the group is a large nonprofit organization, a multibillion dollar corporate empire, a community or grassroots organization, or a group of friends who get together on a regular basis to discuss politics and the weather, each is a structured entity whether formal or informal, with flexible or stringent rules and guidelines. What aids in the solidification of the group is the issuance of tasks and responsibilities, power and resources spread amongst the membership. The simple notion that a group of individuals with various talents have come together for a common cause makes it a group (Freeman, 1970). Freeman posits that it is not natural to refuse to interact or related to one another which are described as structurelessness, as these tendencies are considered outside of human nature.

Freeman asserts that in order for everyone to have the opportunity for involvement in a particular group and to participate in the groups' activities the structure of the group must be explicit. As such, roles of decision making must be available and open to everyone and can only occur in a formalized process. In this way, the informal structure that frequently has control of the rules and structure are no longer dominant (Freeman 1970).

The following is a presentation of the group Calprig; its purpose nature and activity base as compared to organizational theories. The goal of this project is to provide a critical examination of the theories that govern group behavior and compare and contrast to the activities of Calprig in an effort to determine similarities, differences, and new insights into group functioning.

Theories

A social movement, as generally defined is "an organized group or collection of organized groups that use non-routine action to challenge institutions, to change particular policies, redirect resources, recognize new cultural meanings, or all of these" (Saxton & Benson 2005, p.1). The institutions, as described can represent sexuality, schools, corporations, the government, or the church. According to the literature, ofttimes movements that challenge institutions also challenge any cultural meanings these institutions support. Tocqueville, in his description of the change in social condition that fosters social movement as equality in economic conditions became more evidence. He posited that a new political science would be necessary and it would

Instruct democracy, if possible to reanimate its beliefs, to purify its mores, to regulate its movements, to substitute little by little the science of affairs for its inexperience, and knowledge of its true instincts for its blind instincts; to adapt its government to time and place; to modify it according to circumstance and men; such is the first duty imposed on those who direct society in our day (Tocqueville, 2000, p. 7).

There have been a number of theories and philosophies posited regarding group function. A number of theories associate power, expressed politically and/or financially, and the level of influence these organizations, formally or informally have on those around them, locally, nationally and/or internationally. Even from the times of nobility when kings governed the land, a certain share of political rights was given to the people (Addams 1889, p. 5). Even though is a great deal of disagreement with regard to how to refer to them nongovernment organizations commonly referred to as nonprofits have been described as formal organizations that have long-term existence, appointed leaders, separate from government, not designed to generate profit for the CEO, and are self-governing. These organization use volunteers primarily, to get the organization's mission and message out to the people. Nonprofit organizations by definition are posited to serve some pubic good, for the benefit of the public (Salamon & Anheier 1997, p. 32).

According to the QCEW data files on nonprofit organizations, these charitable entities employed nearly 9 million individuals in 2002 or 8.2% of the country's private employment. According to Salamon and Sokolowski (2005), nonprofit organizations employ nearly three times as many workers as the country's entire agricultural sector, twice as many workers as the country's transportation industry, 60% more workers than the nations' wholesale trade industry and its finance and insurance industry, and nearly as many workers as are those employed in durable goods manufacturing (p.20).

Steven Rathgeb Smith and Michael Lipsky (1993) in "Nonprofits for Hire" suggest the mindset of many Americans regarding nonprofit organizations. Many Americans make the assumption that nonprofits because they are 'charitable' are trustworthy; more trustworthy that government or government run organizations because of the underlying assumption that they are primarily grassroots, more closely tied to the local community, and more genuine or authentic. These assumptions are based on the fact that many Americans don't understand the connectivity between government funding, thereby government influence, and nonprofit organizations.

The posited goal of the government financing nonprofit and grassroots organizations is allegedly to empower them by creating active citizenry, smarter citizens, and caring citizens. Over the past ten years, there has been a plethora of empirical and scholarly literature on the significance of social capital on a number of social, economic and political phenomenon (Saxton & Benson 2005, p. 16). Research has demonstrated a positive association between the extent of a community's social capital and economic development (Romo & Schwartz, 1995); while at the organizational level, researchers have determined strong associations between corporate entrepreneurship and social capital, firm morality, and the creation of greater intellectual and human capital (Chung & Gibbons, 1997; Coleman, 1998; Pennings, Lee, & Witteloostuijin, 1998). For the individual, it has been purported that social capital has been linked to better health, happiness, and increased earnings (Putnam, 2000, p. 319).

As previously advised, there has been significant growth in the nonprofit sector, particularly in the United States over the course of the past 25 years. As of the statistical report of 2001, there were nearly 1.2 million nonprofit organizations in the United States. However, Saxton and Benson (2005) argue that the growth has not been even. There are regional and local disparities in the nonprofit sector in many communities were some are decidedly healthy and others are not. Saxton and Benson attribute these disparities to social capital. Social capital is determined by its function. All social capital consists of social structure that facilitates certain actions on the part of individuals within the structure (Coleman 1990, p. 302); social capital is the ability of individuals to secure benefits by virtue of their membership in social networks, organizations or other social structures (Portes, 1998, p. 6); and social capital refers to connectivity between individuals and the norms of trustworthiness and reciprocity that derives from participation in organizations or social structures (Putnam 2000, p. 19).

One of the theoretical approaches most applicable to this project and the nonprofit organization I worked with is the ecological approach as this theory focused on population dynamics or ecological issues. Preexisting organizational density on current organizational founding is one of the first tenants of the ecological approach, either through legitimation or competition. Legitimation processes lead to the prevalence of nonprofit organizations in society. With high existing density has also been suggestedly an increase of the founding rate or the expansion of relevant social and skills networks. Because of the mission of Calprig not being a new idea but rather the expansion on existing tenants of nonprofit organizations and organizational focus, the ecological model is applicable. There is a certain level of carrying capacity (Hannah & Freeman 1987). There is an expectation in this model that the more individuals become involved in civil social activities and engagement in good citizenship interests through the creation of new and existing organizations, the greater the carrying capacity in the nonprofit sector in general. This would suggest an overall positive impact of both prior founding and density in the nonprofit sector as a whole.

The environmental approach seeks out factors in the institutional, economic and social environment that would serve as an explanation of the changes in organizational founding patterns. In the nonprofit literature, it is often purported that particular environmental variables such as the size of the community and the lack of financial resources by nature increases the demand for nonprofit organizations and services (Corbin 1999) and service to increase the numbers or supply of financial and human resources that can be mobilized (Hannah & Freeman 1987).

Nevertheless, there has been ongoing contentious debate over the relationship between the scope and size of the nonprofit organizational sector and government spending. On one side of the scholarly discourse, is the argument that because of the expanse in bureaucracy, there is a crowding out of community-based organizations. These kinds of theories highlight zero sum and conflictual government and nonprofit sectors (Saxton & Benson 2005). However, according to cross-national, large scale research conducted by Salamon and Anheier (1997, 1998) exhibit doubt on the government/market failure explanations of the nonprofit sector and their subsidiary role to government. Instead, as evidenced by many nonprofit organizations that receive government funding, there is more of a partnership… [END OF PREVIEW]

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