Tailoring organizational characteristics for empowerment: Accommodating individual economic resources

N. Andrew Peterson, Joseph Hughey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Empowerment is an important value orientation and intervention approach in social work and other disciplines. Viewed from an ecological perspective, a good fit between organizational characteristics and the life circumstances of individuals should provide empowerment benefits. By studying interaction effects of material resources and organizational characteristics on empowerment, this research sought to extend understanding of empowerment dynamics in community organizations. Using hierarchical regression analyses to investigate socio-economic status (SES) in a moderator model, findings of the study demonstrated that, among a diverse group of participants in two different faith-based community organizations, perceptions of organizational characteristics were more strongly related to empowerment for participants of lower SES. A substantive implication of the study is that community practitioners should attend to the fit between specific organizational processes and economic circumstances of community based organization participants. Strategies weighted toward attention to relationships among members linked to availability of and participation in a variety of organizational roles may be more salient for empowerment of the disadvantaged. Our findings are consistent with an ecological orientation to empowerment, and they add further support to the importance of ecological specificity in empowerment theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-59
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Community Practice
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 1 2002
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration


  • Community organization
  • Empowerment
  • Organizational characteristics
  • Socio-economic status


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