Organizational Capacity is the level of an organization's capability to deliver services and products that not only satisfy present customer expectations, but continually anticipate future marketplace opportunities. Key among the primary components of capacity are those associated with the human side of performance. These include the traditional classification of knowledge, skills, and abilities. These elements contribute substantially to an organization's capacity and serve as the primary focus of its capabilities.
Key Dimensions of Organizational Capacity
The different aspects of organizational capacity can be organized into five categories or “dimensions.”
- Organizational Resources: Organizational resources consist of the concrete materials and tangible assets that support programs, practice improvements, and service delivery. They encompass adequate and stable funding, staffing, facilities and equipment, technology, informational resources, and program materials. Adequate resources enable an organization to meet ongoing needs and targeted improvements. For example, to implement a new project, a company may need additional staff to provide services, additional office space for the new staff, project materials that guide service delivery, data collection tools and equipment to track and assess services, and funding to pay for these and other assets. All these organizational resources will contribute to the company's ability to implement and sustain the new project and, ultimately, to achieve the desired outcomes. In many cases, adding new staff and facilities may not be feasible, so the company may need to reassign or realign organizational resources to meet the needs of a new project.
- Organizational Infrastructure: Organizational infrastructure consists of the systems, protocols, and processes that give structure to the organization, support its key functions, and embed routine practice. Infrastructure may include the policies and operating procedures that guide practice and build a shared understanding of how to deliver services. Infrastructure also includes systems for operations — from human resources, training, supervision, and ongoing communication systems to data, evaluation, and continuous quality improvement (CQI) systems. An organization’s structures, processes, and systems institutionalize practices, procedures, and rules to ensure their consistent execution regardless of staff or leadership changes. The organizational infrastructure also supports the organization in carrying out its vision, mission, goals, and values. Organizational infrastructure often sets the foundation for other organizational capacities. For example, recruitment and staff selection processes lead to the availability of adequate workforce resources. Similarly, training systems help build staff knowledge and skills.
- Organizational Knowledge and Skills: Organizational knowledge and skills consist of the essential expertise and competencies needed to perform work. Think of this as the organization's “know-how.” For an employee, this includes understanding and application of effective knowledge and practice, decision-making, management, and competence. For managers and administrators, it also includes knowledge and skills related to leadership, management, critical analysis, policy making, workforce development, and change management.
- Organizational Culture and Climate: Organizational culture and climate consist of shared values, norms, attitudes, and perceptions that influence how people in an organization behave. An organization's priorities, leadership commitments, and staff motivation reflect its culture and climate. For new programs and practices, an company's culture and climate may affect how people accept and support change. While people often use the terms “culture” and “climate” interchangeably, Charles Glisson, a leading researcher in this area, makes the following distinction (2015, p. 2):
- Organizational culture refers to the shared behavioral expectations and norms in a work environment. This is the collective view of “the way work is done.”
- Organizational climate represents staff perceptions of the impact of the work environment on the individual. This is the view of “how it feels” to work at the agency (e.g., supportive, stressful).
- Organizational Engagement and Partnership: Organizational engagement and partnership consist of collaborative relationships within an organization and with external partners, and community to support service integration and inform improved practices. Productive relationships involve building trust, seeking feedback, and actively collaborating toward shared objectives. While organizational engagement and partnership often require structures to facilitate collaboration (e.g., interagency agreements), the structures are part of organizational infrastructure. This dimension features the resulting relationship and collaboration between the partners.