First Advisor

Leonard Cain

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Sociology






Interorganizational relations, Social service -- Societies, etc



Physical Description

1 online resource (120 p.)


The concept of interorganizational field refers to the pattern of relationships or the context within which organizations negotiate or compete to accomplish their goals. This paper examines the proposition that the type of interorganizational field shapes and· influences interactions between organizations. To explore the nature of any contextual effects, a hypothesis is extracted to represent each of four subareas of the literature: the transaction or exchange, the resource dependency, the communication, and the division of labor subareas. Non-verification of the hypotheses indicates the extent and the manner in which interorganizational fields can affect relations between organizations.

A case study of these hypotheses is presented for one type of interorganizational field, a federation of social service agencies. The federation includes eight organizations which delivered services and an administrative component to facilitate interagency coordination. The data, which were gathered from project documents, monthly records, and a series of interviews of representatives from each of these organizations, permit analysis of the federation's two-year tenure. Analysis of these data leave three of the four hypotheses not verified, with only the hypothesis on communication between organizations being upheld. These findings suggest that the ''norms of rationality” alleged to govern organizational decision-making are actually assessed according to characteristics of the interorganizational context. More generally, the conclusion is that the interorganizational field level of analysis merits further examination as a causal context. By specifying the nature of this context, it ultimately is possible to theorize whether the effects of variables across fields are linear or curvilinear, and whether interaction effects exist.


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