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Keywords:

  • cross-sectoral networks;
  • capacity;
  • Brazil

Abstract

This article examines the 16-year history of a Brazilian social mobilization network through the lenses of organizational change, capacity development, and network management. Created by an inspirational leader and his group of friends at a favorable political juncture, COEP has survived and thrived because it managed to mobilize a wide array of public, private, and third-sector organizations under the common banner of social justice and solidarity. It has succeeded by adopting a non-hierarchical, yet structured, organizational configuration that leaves room for members' initiative, while at the same time maintains internal consistency and integrity. COEP illustrates well the importance of the intangible elements of capacity, such as legitimized and inspirational leadership and the ability for strategic thinking, for anticipating and reacting to change while maintaining the core mission and values of the network. COEP's capacity is the result of the fortuitous confluence of institutional and personal, material and intangible qualities of the people and organizations that constitute it. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.