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Public Policy and Administration


Ernesto Escobedo


Lack of trust between nonprofit organizations and the communities in which they are located is a well-documented problem in the academic literature. The nature of this mistrust is far less understood, and little is known how community-nonprofit collaborations can overcome these gaps in trust. Guided by Simmel's theory of trust, this study examined the role of collaborative trust between public and non-profit organizations with a focus on better understanding how trust evolves. The research questions focused on how trust was defined and the factors that enhanced and inhibited trust evolution within the context of collaborations between nonprofit organizations and communities. Data were gathered through structured, in-depth interviews with 14 staff and stakeholders, a focus group of 4 management committee members, and the examination of partnership documents.Data from the interviews and documents were inductively coded and then organized around key themes. The themes from the content analysis indicated that the 3 chief executive officers in the partnership embraced the concept of collaboration, invested time at trust building activities, and obtained stakeholder support. This study contributes to positive social change by providing information for policy makers and administrators of public and nonprofit organizations facing similar contexts about how the development of trust can remove the barriers and sustain collaboration to deliver social program services efficiently and equitably.