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Examination of Social Networks for Collaboration in a Nonprofit Collaborative: A Case Study Open Access

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The purpose of this case study was to examine a nontraditional organization to understand how relationships within its social network function to facilitate collaboration. The specific organization for this study was a value-congruent nonprofit collaborative. This case study was based on social network theory, specifically the intersection of network theory and exchange theory. The three-prong approach to data collection—surveys, interviews, and document review—sought to answer the following questions:1. What social networks exist within this nonprofit collaborative?2. What are the interconnection structures (relationships) within the value-congruent nonprofit collaborative?3. How do the informal relationships function to facilitate collaboration?The study had 14 key findings: (1) all actors in the networks were tied to at least one other actor; (2) the collaborative members shared information; (3) the collaborative members worked on joint projects; (4) the collaborative members shared resources; (5) the collaborative members provided patient referrals; (6) Organization 35, the founding organization, was the central organization; (7) the collaborative created an even playing field; (8) enhanced relationships resulted from being part of the collaborative; (9) through networking, the collaborative created opportunities for collaboration; (10) members discussed the future vision for the organization; (11) the collaborative building served as the nucleus of the organization; (12) members wanted more joint projects and advocacy projects; (13) all of the organizations invited to join the collaborative had disabilities as an integral part of their mission; and (14) the collaborative emphasized the importance of leveraging the power of many in the discussions related to disabilities.From the findings, it is evident that this nonprofit collaborative was forging new territory, which could positively impact the future of nonprofits through leveraging the power of many. The collaborative not only shared resources and worked on joint projects, but it also shared institutional knowledge for the benefit of society.

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