Individual Submission Summary

Direct link:

Emerging Leadership in the Third Sector: Strategies and Characteristics of Civil Society Organizations to Build External Social Capital

Tue, July 12, 2:00 to 3:30pm, TBA


In crisis contexts such as the current pandemic, civil social organization (CSOs) must reflect on their adaptability to change and take advantage of the potential of linking with their stakeholders, for a more strategic and innovative management. During this period, CSOs have faced different obstacles to maintain their operations, since they had been experiencing internal difficulties with respect to structure, organization and resources, these being aggravated by external circumstances. Based on the approach to a panel of experts from CSOs and the public sector, perceptions on leadership and strategies are analyzed, in order to establish the basic characteristics of a current profile of CSO with the capacity to build social capital, generate synergies in the social fabric and face post-pandemic challenges.

This study requires the construction of a theoretical framework where the intersections between the following concepts can be made visible: social capital, being conceptualized from political science, considering the concepts handled by CEPAL (2003), OECD (2001) and World Bank (2001); leadership, seen from an organizational and transformational approach; strategies, proposed from administrative projections that point to innovation, among others.

For Atria (2003) there are two strategies for the construction of social capital. The first is empowerment, which relates it to the leadership of the members of a group towards the environment, that is, outside the closest circle of relationship. It is not about inward leadership but rather outwardly. This is related to the second strategy, which is associativity. This means diversifying and expanding networks to strengthen reciprocity with other groups. In the end, having strategic allies with whom to collaborate mutually.

This research uses the Delphi method as a tool for collecting information that has two phases. The first, with a qualitative approach, uses interviews with open questions to learn about the experiences of the experts' engagement with CSOs. The dimensions are structured in the light of the revised theory and a questionnaire of closed questions is designed in the second phase, to identify the characteristics through descriptive statistics, which, from the consensus perception of the public sector and the third sector, CSOs must possess to achieve social cohesion in this context.

The results found by the experts of the Third Sector speak of the importance of the leadership of the CSO to have greater credibility and thus form networks and strategic alliances among themselves and with other sectors. They must also have a solid structure and internal direction that allows them to efficiently manage resources on a sustained basis. The findings of the surveys for public sector experts show consensus around the need for intra- and inter-organizational leadership, which seeks both the achievement of results and the consolidation of a sustainable structure.

The common findings propose four pillars around which CSOs could build their innovative strategies, these are: empowerment, associativity, institutional sustainability and adaptive capacity. Simultaneously, through the findings, it is observed that the leadership of the third sector could be strengthened if resources are invested in the formation of its directions, structures, capacities and organizational cultures.