Contextual factors, such as the economic climate or shifting population demographics, may also affect the formation and effectiveness of community coalitions. Contextual factors are external conditions that either exist or are lacking in the environment, and thus can enhance or inhibit the coalition’s activities. Both the CCAT and Empowerment Theory highlight the impact of contextual factors, suggesting their importance in predicting coalition effectiveness. Specifically, Butterfoss, Lachance, and Orians (2006) found that contextual factors such as politics, the history of collaboration among member organizations in the coalition, geography, and community readiness can impact coalition formation. Population demographics, the cultural climate in the community, overall community attitude toward a particular issue, and precipitating events in the community are other contextual factors that may impact coalition effectiveness (Butterfoss, 2007).
As illustrated in the CCAT, Empowerment Theory, and the literature, elements such as leadership and staffing, structures and collaboration, among others, can affect the development of community coalitions and their ability to achieve their goals and create change. The ways in which these characteristics come together to shape community coalitions can impact their effectiveness. This chapter reviewed the functions of coalitions, as well as two predominant theories of community coalitions and their characteristics. Chapter Three provides an assessment of the current issues in the literature surrounding the evaluation of community coalitions’ influences on health outcomes.