Date of Award

8-2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Karyl Mammano

Second Supervisor

Diane Reed

Comments

This research examines the perspectives of how Catholic human service organizations maintain their Catholic identity amid delivery of largely secularized services and assesses the congruence of perceptions between line-level and leadership staff regarding the expression of Catholic identity. Focusing on a network of agencies formed a century ago, the network is administered and staff based on professional expertise rather than religious affiliation, and largely funded through government contracts. It struggles to remain competitive and therefore relevant in today’s human service sector, raising concerns regarding the extent to which Catholic beliefs and not funding priorities remain the core drivers of organizational identity. Grounded in Albert and Whetten’s (1985) organizational identity theory, employees were surveyed regarding how their own organization demonstrates elements of Catholic identity. By comparing members’ beliefs regarding what traits reflect Catholic identity with how those traits are manifested within their own organization, this study provides valuable insight into today’s complex Catholic human service organizations. What the research supports is that members recognize that the manner in which they implement programs and provide services is the very expression of Catholic identity. Citing specific programmatic examples as well as the manner in which services are delivered, this study affirms the relevance of Catholic identity in today’s competitive human service arena.

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