Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet

Ohio State University Fact Sheet

Coalition Functioning


Charles H. Bell
Penne Smith

A Committee in Disguise

Starting and maintaining a coalition is no big mystery. It is similar to starting and maintaining a committee where there is a need and people interested in finding a solution. The United States started as a coalition of colonies with a need (problem) and people interested in finding a solution.

Though the functions of a committee and a coalition are very similar, the word "committee" may need to be avoided. Negative comments have often been made about committees. For example: "The camel is just a horse put together by a committee." "The fewer committee meetings the better." "Too much of my day is used up in useless committees."

Elements for Success

While attention to group goals and objectives is essential, developing and maintaining committees and coalitions is also an interpersonal process. This requires close attention to group process and skills.


The principles that relate to effective coalition functioning coincide with the principles of effective committee functioning.


Benard, Bonnie. "Collaboration Fosters Creative Problem Solving." Western Center News (March 1991).

Lippitt, Ronald and Jon Van Till, "Can We Achieve a Collaborative Community?," Journal of Voluntary Action Research (July-December 1981).

Lippitt, Ronald and Jon Van Till, "Issues, Imperatives, Potentials, " Journal of Voluntary Action Research (July-December 1981).

Schindler-Rainman, Eva, "Toward Collaboration-Risks We Need to Take," Journal of Volunteer Action Research (July-December 1981).

"Treatment: Building Child Service Partnerships," Children and Teens Today (December 1990).

All educational programs conducted by Ohio State University Extension are available to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis without regard to race, color, creed, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, gender, age, disability or Vietnam-era veteran status.

Keith L. Smith, Associate Vice President for Ag. Adm. and Director, OSU Extension.

TDD No. 800-589-8292 (Ohio only) or 614-292-6181

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