Alt Title

Characteristics of social service agencies and board members : the DeKalb case

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Beaudry, James A.||Burchard, Waldo W.||Marshall, Hannah

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Sociology and Anthropology


Social service


This research is in large measure a replication of a voluntary association study conducted by Nicholas Babchuk, Ruth Marsey, andC. Wayne Gordon in a large eastern city (here called Eastern City). This study of De Kalb, Illinois, attempts to determine if the patterns noted ten years ago in a large urban area are present in a city much smaller in size. Both studies deal with the question of the community influence of a specific type of voluntary association - social service agency boards. This research considers a number of patterns that help to distinguish the influence social service agencies have on the local community. It does this by first considering the components of community influence that are available to social service agencies. It was hypothesized that agencies with more influence in the community would have characteristics that differ from agencies with less community influence. By comparison, agencies with greater influence were expected to have: higher budgets, instrumental functions, and greater perceived importance. In addition, these agencies were expected to have boards with a greater male dominance and individuals of higher status and greater community participation. For the most part, the findings of this De Kalb study support the findings of the Eastern City study. In both cities, agency budget is highly correlated with perceived agency importance. In addition, both cities show a marked male dominance of instrumental agencies as well as agencies perceived as highly important to the local community. In the same way, the De Kalb findings support a pattern expected but not tested in the Eastern City study - namely, that board members of high influence agencies are also more active in other community organizations. The one area in which the De Kalb findings differ radically from the Eastern City findings is in the status pattern of board members. Unlike Eastern City, the status of high importance board members is only slightly higher than the status of low importance board members. While there is some indication that this pattern results from a failure to accurately measure the De Kalb status system, the possibility exists that genuinely different patterns are present. In addition to considering predetermined hypotheses, this study sought patterns that could be the basis of further research. These patterns include: 1. Rising members in local economic institutions have the most to gain by belonging to highly ranked and visible agency boards, and to highly visible positions within these boards. 2. In high importance agencies, board members are drawn directly from outside the organization, while in low importance agencies, board members are drawn from within the group. 3. There is low cross-over between low and high importance agency boards. 4. Church boards are a major source of leadership training. 5. Occupation-related skills differ among agency boards.


Includes bibliographical references.


56 pages




Northern Illinois University

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