Building a framework for institutional change: the small worlds of assets for independence act grantees and their financial partners

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Reid, Kristen Elisa

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The study tests whether the intersectoral relationships of 157 grantees of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (USDHHS) Assets for Independence (AFI) Demonstration Project and their financial partners form a small world network structure. Small world networks are networks of relations that are made up of clustered groups of network members connected through random, inter-cluster ties. The small world network structure allows small changes in relations at the local level (i.e., within clusters) to have macro impact within the wider, global network. Such networks have been found to be more efficient in transmitting messages and to have more sustainable relationship structures. After finding that the network structure of the AFI Demonstration Project grantees and financial partners is a small world, the study performs two tests of correlation. The first Quadratic Assignment Procedure (QAP) tests whether the intercluster ties of the grantees correlated with the overall structure of the network. The second QAP tested whether the emergent network structure was related to the distribution of grantees across USDHHS regional designations. While both tests found significant Pearson Correlation values, neither had strong correlations indicating that other variables are influencing the distribution of relationships. The limited findings for the study frame more in-depth studies to be performed, including innovative methods of network analysis, to further understand the multi-sector relationships of asset-building programs.