First Advisor

Nancy J. Chapman

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Urban Studies


Urban Studies




Welfare, Social service -- United States -- Citizen participation, Organizational behavior, Social work administration -- United States



Physical Description

3, xi, 301 leaves 28 cm.


This research is an exploratory study of thirty human service agencies' programs to link their services to informal helpers in their communities. The helpers were persons identified as important helping resources to persons in their own social networks, who were often also clients of the service agency. The thirty agencies were drawn from across the nation, and served several different types of client populations and needs. Models from practice and theory suggest that linkages between the formal and informal caregiving systems should be modeled after primary relations, informal and personal in character. Research and literature on organizations suggests, however, that the formal service system tends to impose its own standards of control and accountability on its linkages. This research sought to determine how agency context influenced the structure of relationships between agency staff and informal helpers. Specifically, what organizational attributes are barriers to informally structured relationships? Does the perception of the program mediate the influence of organizational attributes on the relationship structure? The data were gathered through intensive site visits, using discussions, observations, and document reviews, from which case studies and content analyses were prepared. Multiple item scales were constructed to measure several attributes of the agency context, the program innovation, and the staff-helper relationship. The scales constructed range in reliability from alpha = .29 to .93. A conceptual model described the predicted relationships among the variables, from which seven hypotheses were derived. Pearson correlations, partial correlations, and multiple regression were used to test the hypotheses statistically. Case materials were used to supplement the statistical analyses. The pattern of associations found in the study was more complex than initially proposed. High program unit formalization was the single best predictor of high formalization of the staff-helper relationship, while a supportive work climate was a good predictor of informal relationships between agency staff and informal helpers.


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Portland State University. School of Urban Affairs.

Persistent Identifier