Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Public Administration

First Advisor's Name

Meredith A. Newman

First Advisor's Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Richard Beaulaurier

Third Advisor's Name

Nazife Emel Ganapati

Fourth Advisor's Name

Milena I. Neshkova

Date of Defense

10-12-2010

Abstract

This qualitative two-site case study examined the capacity building practices that Children’s Services Councils (CSCs), independent units of local government, provide to nonprofit organizations (NPOs) contracted to deliver human services. The contracting literature is replete with recommendations for government to provide capacity building to contracted NPOs, yet there is a dearth of scholarship on this topic. The study’s purpose was to increase the understanding of capacity building provided in a local government contracting setting.

Data collection consisted primarily of in-depth interviews and focus groups with 73 staff from two CSCs and 28 contracted NPOs. Interview data were supplemented by participant observation and review of secondary data. The study analyzed capacity building needs, practices, influencing factors, and outcomes.

The study identified NPO capacity building needs in: documentation and reporting, financial management, program monitoring and evaluation, participant recruitment and retention, and program quality. Additionally, sixteen different types of CSC capacity building practices were identified. Results indicated that three major factors impacted CSC capacity building: CSC capacity building goals, the relationship between the CSC and NPOs, and the level of NPO participation. Study results also provided insight into the dynamics of the CSC capacity building process, including unique problems, challenges, and opportunities as well as necessary resources. The results indicated that the CSCs’ relational contracting approach facilitated CSC capacity building and that CSC contract managers were central players in the process.

The study provided evidence that local government agencies can serve as effective builders of NPO capacity. Additionally, results indicated that much of what is known about capacity building can be applied in this previously unstudied capacity building setting. Finally, the study laid the groundwork for future development of a model for capacity building in a local government contracting setting.

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