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Balancing Competition within a Homeless Services Provider Network: Brookfield County's Continuum of Care

Kelly LeRoux (University of Illinois at Chicago)

May 2012


Nonprofit human service organizations operate in an environment that is simultaneously collaborative and competitive. Most human service organizations, like the homeless service providers featured in this simulation, are joined in collaborative relationships through formal or informal networks. Despite this collaboration, nonprofits operate in an environment of resource scarcity and thus they also find themselves in competition with one another for contracts and grants, donors, new clients, and for qualified staff, volunteers, and board members. This simulation provides students with an opportunity to work through a common scenario that occurs among local homeless and housing service providers as they are forced to manage their complex and ongoing competition-collaboration dynamics. It also demonstrates the challenge of balancing short-term needs against long-term interests when making decisions about human service delivery.