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Community efficacy and competency

In community management, we differentiate between the two concepts of community efficacy and community competency. Community efficacy describes the self-perception of communities by their members: Do the people in a community believe that their community is capable of mobilizing the strength and the resources to bring about positive changes? Community competency, on the other hand, describes the actual capability of communities to do these things.

The three major components of community efficacy are:

(1) Social control (self-enforcement of norms)
(2) Cohesion (integration and interaction)
(3) Identity (sense of belonging)

Community efficacy is actually measureable by questioning community members about their perception of the capabilities of their respective communities. Studies indicate, that a high community efficacy strongly correlates with actual community competency.

A competent community can:

– identify problems and needs
– set goals and priorities
– agree on ways to implement changes
– collaborate effectively to bring about changes

It is important to note, that community competency and the empowerment of the individual are strongly linked: If the community in general feels competent (meaning that community efficacy is high), its individual members are more likely to feel competent as well. Therefore, changes in a community and changes in individual behavior are closely interwoven.

These lecture notes were taken during 2012 installment of the MOOC “Community Change in Public Health” taught by Prof. Dr. William R. Brieger of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health at Prof. Brieger blogs under and can be found on twitter as @bbbrieger.
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