Collective Impact Research

A popular community engagement strategy called the collective impact model has been emerging to address large-scale social change requiring broad cross-sector coordination. In response, the field of community development shifted its focus from isolated interventions of individual organizations to a collective impact model approach, defined as “the commitment of a group of important actors from different sectors to a common agenda for solving a specific social problem” (Kania & Kramer, 2011, p. 2). Since the collective impact model is still relatively new, there is no research yet that seeks to understand the collective impact model’s greatest critique—its dismissing, ignoring, and obstructing of the inclusion of community narratives.

Given the lack of understanding about community members’ narratives in collective impact models, this study explores how they are or are not included, and how they are or are not utilized in decision-making. Utilizing a conceptual framework, this study includes a research paradigm with critical theory and constructivism, a theoretical framework with Black feminist thought and postcolonial theory, and the researcher’s unique positionality as a participant-observer in the collective impact model being studied. Members of various roles from the same collective impact model were interviewed and observed in community meetings for this study, along with document analysis. Findings illuminate ways community narratives are and are not understood in collective impact models. Key findings also include insights into ways community members’ narratives could be better understood in collective impact models.

More to come…

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