In addition to structures such as an active governing body and a well-formed steering committee, the literature suggests the coalition’s operations and processes as facilitators of coalition effectiveness. The coalition institutes operations and processes for communication, decision making, and conflict resolution that enable it to function. Communication has been identified as one of the most important characteristics for the success of any organization, including community coalitions (Beckham & King, 2005; Butterfoss, 2007). For a coalition to operate effectively, messages must be accurately communicated within and outside of the coalition. Regular communication among coalition members fosters cooperation that can help the coalition meet its goals. Decision-making processes are also important to coalition functioning because they are related to member satisfaction and involvement in the coalition. Coalitions may choose to appoint a single decision maker, a group of decision makers, use majority rule, or require consensus.
Conflict resolution processes are also important to coalition functioning, as they foster strong partnerships among members (Butterfoss, 2007). Bazzoli et al. (2003) found that partnerships that avoided conflict were more successful, completing a higher proportion of their action steps. Research suggests that coalition effectiveness correlates negatively with staff turnover and weakness in community organization skills (Kegler, Steckler, McLeroy, & Malek, 1998), and with historical and cultural conflicts (el Ansari & Phillips, 2001). Conflict may result from “turf” issues (Meek, 1992), and leadership problems and internal disagreements (Butterfoss, 2007) that affect the direction of the coalition. Additionally, coalition members may view one another as competitors, which can impact member satisfaction and coalition functioning. In a study of organizations participating in a children’s health coalition, Valente, Coronges, Stevens, and Cousineau (2008) found that perceptions of other organizations as competitors was associated with perceptions that the coalition functioned poorly and that there were obstacles to achieving the coalition’s goals.