URBS 230—Community Leadership and Service Learning

Community Institutions


While leadership within a corporation or a military organization is difficult enough, community leadership requires particular sensitivity to (and ability to work with) the context of the community. While a corporate or a military hierarchy is designed to have a certain internal logic and has control over the definitions of its boundaries and relationships, “the community” is not a product of logical design and its structure is determined much more by tradition and overlapping allegiances. To succeed in such an environment, a leader must be particularly sensitive to the multiple and overlapping interests with which he or she must work.


Roland Warren, in The Community in America (1963), identified five locality-relevant functions which any community must satisfy if it is to survive. Although any single community organization usually has one or another of these as its primary function, societies tend to be over-determined (they satisfy their needs in multiple ways so that there is no single link in the chain that is irreplaceable) and most organizations play some role in all five functions. The institutions which serve these functions are integrated to each other both horizontally and vertically. These five functions serve as a useful framework for analyzing the community in which you are working, and role your organization (and other organizations) play within it.


The five functions are:


Identifying these five functions is a major step in understanding the community. But one must also understand the relationship among the functions. Organizations, individuals, and institutions that focus on one or another of these functions tend to come together around their common interests (this is called a “horizontal pattern” of integration), as well as fitting into a larger arrangement of external relations within which the individual or corporation must fit (this is called a “vertical pattern” of integration). The horizontal pattern strengthens the common focus; the vertical pattern strengthens the ability to spread one’s interests more broadly into the community. The following table provides illustrative examples of each of the functions and their patterns:


Locality-Relevant Functions


Typical unit

Horizontal Pattern

Vertical Pattern



Chamber of Commerce

National Corporation


Public school

Board of Education

State department of education

Social control

Municipal government

City Council

State Government

Social Participation


Council of Churches

Denominational Body

Mutual Support

Voluntary health association

Community welfare council

National health association



2002 A.J.Filipovitch
Revised 22 July 04