Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Vernon D. Ryan


Growing social and economic linkages among Iowa's rural communities have blurred traditional community boundaries. Stronger linkages between urban centers and surrounding rural communities have also developed as more services relocate to urban centers. The farm crisis of the 1980's exacerbated these trends as the capacity of rural governments and enterprises to maintain local services was reduced. While some consolidation of institutions and services has taken place in rural Iowa, a trend toward multicommunity voluntary collaboration is noted;This research focuses upon endogenous regions and the multicommunity development organizations (MDOs) that have emerged to promote joint community economic development efforts. Endogenous regions represent an emerging form of social structure as communities develop closer ties to one another. They are endogenous as they are spatially created through local voluntary processes rather than the mandate of extra-local institutions;An inventory of MDOs was taken using information gathered from economic development professionals at both the state and sub-state regional level. MDOs are defined as formally organized community development organizations involving two or more rural communities, covering a relatively small geographic area (county size or less) and addressing multiple issue areas. MDOs were clustered into three classifications based upon their substantive organizational activities. A descriptive analysis compares the ecology, structure and output of the MDOs as classified. A path analysis is used to determine the effects of organizational variables and the aggregated local ecology upon MDO output as measured through job creation;Three key variables found to influence MDO output were the size of population aggregated, the annual budget of the MDO and the activities in which the MDO was involved. MDOs taking a broad, holistic approach to community economic development tended to help generate more local job creation than MDOs focusing solely upon business development activities. It is concluded that how MDOs are organized both institutionally and spatially effects MDO output within their endogenous regional community.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Timothy O'Connor Borich



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

153 pages