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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Success factors in inter-community cooperation : a case analysis Macdonald, Terence Alan

Abstract

For many Indian bands across Canada, community development planning has emerged as an important approach to change. By forging close economic and political links with one another, small bands can accelerate their development through new economies of scale, heightened political influence, more innovative capacities and other advantages of cooperation. In practical terms, however, the initiation, formalization and consolidation of close inter-band cooperation presents several problems. Native culture lacks traditions in institutionalized inter-community cooperation, internal disharmony in many Indian villages frustrates unity on such Important decisions as whether or not to cooperate, and many. Indian communities are poor in organizational skills essential to planning and implementing cooperative strategies. The purpose of this thesis is to determine the factors responsible for apparently successful cooperation in the case of five Indian bands in the Nicola Valley and to assess the applicability of findings to other groups of Indian communities across the country. A literature review guides the selection of research questions and criteria used in assessing the case. Fifteen factors for effective inter-communlty cooperation are isolated from a literature review and grouped into three general categories: those Important to the initiation of cooperation, those relating to the delivery of the rewards of cooperation, and those affecting the capability of the cooperative organization. Six factors for Initiation include the presence of a common crisis or threat, inter-community similarity and familiarity, consensus, committed leadership, a propensity to cooperate and preliminary planning. Successful cooperation was also found to be linked to the capture by cooperating communities of four types of rewards, each representing a factor: Improved resource acquisition, adaptabli1ity to change, efficiency in community resource use and ability to achieve common goals. Finally, ongoing success was found to be reflected in the capability of inter-community cooperative organizations to accomplish five tasks: build community and staff commitment, plan harmonious inter-community relations, manage its environment, exploit common geography and culture, and solve problems. Case research focuses on five Indian bands in the Nicola Valley of southern British Columbia and is based on forty-one Interviews held in the valley. These bands are represented by the Nicola Valley Indian Administration CNVIA), a centralized bureaucracy which coordinates on behalf of the five communities a wide range of administrative services. Fifteen questions - each corresponding to a success factor derived from the literature - were asked in Interviews with people representing a broad spectrum of the native communities. Responses were compiled and analyzed to assess the degree to which inter-band cooperation conformed to expectations from the literature on successful inter-community cooperation. Analysis led to the conclusion that despite deficiencies in preliminary planning, ongoing planning and problem-solving, NVIA is a successful inter-community cooperative enterprise which has delivered many significant benefits to its member communities. While NVIA's existence suggests a successful initiation process, better planning in the formative years would likely have avoided several problems encountered in later years. Some of the rewards of cooperative effort have been inequitably distributed to member bands and various cooperative programs have been adversely affected by political interference. Perhaps most seriously, NVIA itself was found to be deficient in building broad commitment and designing mutually acceptable solutions to internal difficulties. Effective planning in the early stages is vital to establishing and, more importantly, ultimately maintaining inter-community cooperation. Incomplete planning during the formation of NVIA led to lack of clear consensus on the purpose of cooperation, the nature of inter-band power relations, the obligations of each band, and ways of distributing rewards and minimizing risks to participant bands. NVIA provides evidence that Indian communities can establish close formal relations with each other and thus capture certain Important benefits. Problems encountered suggest, however, that bands ought to temper enthusiasm with deliberation when considering formal copperatlve relations. Analysis of the Nicola Valley story confirmed that consensus, early planning, reward delivery, ongoing planning and problem-solving capacity are especially Important factors in establishing and maintaining lnter-communlty cooperation. The case makes a key contribution to interorganizational relations theory by highlighting the importance of Informal cooperation as a means of preparing Indian bands for more structured cooperation. It also reveals the critical role of persistent and far-sighted leadership in the formalization of inter-band cooperative relations.

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