Date of Award

Winter 2006

Project Type


Program or Major

Recreation Management and Policy

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Robert Barcelona


This qualitative study was designed to understand how a nonprofit human service organization (NHSO) understands, perceives, and engages in innovation strategies in a turbulent environment. This study also examined how environmental factors influence an organization's capacity to innovate. These concepts are relevant for further exploration because the NHSO sector typically operates in a turbulent environment and has multiple stakeholders that mandate change and innovation.

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with nine staff and board members from three NHSOs located in a New England city. Political economy and resource dependency theories provided a framework to the research questions and analysis. These interviews were transcribed and analyzed for common elements and themes. Emergent themes centered on the staff and board members' (1) micro-view of innovation and (2) stability, as well as internal and external systems that they perceived to support the innovation process, including (3) leadership development, (4) role clarity, (5) organizational commitment, (6) demands on staff, (7) and relationships as leverage.