Title: Narratives On Homelessness: Investigating The Connections Between Organizational Language And Learning
Program: Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy and Administration
Advisor: Dr. Elizabeth Fredericksen, School of Public Service
Committee Members: Dr. Krista Paulsen, School of Public Service; and Dr. Stephanie Witt, School of Public Service
The increasing privatization of government and the associated growth of the nonprofit sector means that the delivery of public services is increasingly taking place outside of the traditional domain of government. Variation between nonprofits now significantly shapes the range of public experiences with ‘government’. The type of feedback process that a nonprofit employs with a particular stakeholder group may shape that group’s experiences within organizational decision-making processes. Nonprofits with poor feedback processes, and accordingly poor conceptions of client needs and characteristics, are expected to face difficulty in representing their clients effectively or equitably (Guo & Musso, 2007).
Few studies have explicitly looked at the connection between organizational narratives and structures. To best examine this connection, this study employs a comparative case study of 46 homelessness service nonprofit organizations across a clustered sample of cities similar to Boise, Idaho. The Narrative Policy Framework is used to identify key narrative areas in which organizations may vary, including prevailing descriptions of the setting/context that the organization operates within, the key characters at play, the nature of the problem being addressed, the solution for that problem, and the plot (the perceived relationship between the other elements). This study considers these elements and their impact, through feedback processes, on client representation.