First Advisor

John E. O'Brien

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

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


Urban Studies and Planning




Social structure, Social service -- Oregon, Interorganizational relations -- Oregon, Social work with older people -- Oregon



Physical Description

3, viii, 121 leaves 28 cm.


This study attempts to identify the variables associated with an organization's decision to participate in an interorganizational service network. The survev of literature on the subject supported the hypothesis that structural variables of complexity, formalization, and centralization and a psychological variable, the awareness of organizational interdependency, are associated with the decision to participate. Interorganizational participation was operationally defined in terms of various behavioral components: an organization's involvement with the coordinating agency, client referrals to and from other organizations and to and from the coordinating agency, and information exchanged with other organizations and with the coordinating agency. Using this framework, testable hypotheses were formulated regarding the relationship between the selected measures of the independent variables of complexity, formalization, centralization, and awareness of interdependency and the dependent variable of interorganizational participation. Human service agencies which provide services to the elderly in the State of Oregon were surveyed in this study. These agencies, together with the Area Agency on Aging, a coordinating agency established under the Older Americans Act, constituted the interorganizational service network. A main concern of that type of coordinating agency is to facilitate effective working relationships between the organizations in such service networks. This study was designed to explore the factors associated with that process. Findings and Conclusions: The evidence presented suggests that the psychological variable of awareness of interdependency is significantly related to the decision to participate. This finding was generally supported by qualitative data gathered from six organizations examined under the case study method. For the structural variable it was found that: a) complexity was not significantly related to the decision to participate; b) centralization had a significant relationship with only some components of the measures of participation; c) there was some association between formalization and the participation processes. In general, it appears that a key step to building effective networks of service organizations is to increase awareness of interdependency among organizational members.


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Portland State University. School of Urban Affairs.

Persistent Identifier