Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Management (DMgt)

First Advisor

Larry M. Starr, PhD

Second Advisor

Tom Guggino

Third Advisor

Darshi Mody, DMgt


This dissertation explored the challenges of a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), a non-profit social service organization, and the value of employing a systems thinking approach to problem formulation and problem-solving to address its challenges. Soft Systems Methodology (SSM), a systems-informed framework, encourages collective learning and fosters an appreciation for differing perspectives about problem formulation amongst stakeholders instead of rushing to solve predefined issues. One common challenge from current research is that due to reliance on sparse profits and grants earmarked for programmatic endeavors, there is insufficient funding for organizational development. The literature also identified a deficit in stakeholder engagement as a significant contributor to organizational inefficiency. This dissertation described how implementing SSM encourages innovative solutions for capital dissemination in targeted neighborhoods. The dissertation advances the existing literature by advocating for these organizations to perceive themselves as complex systems with complicated and complex stakeholder relationships.


A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Doctor of Management in Strategic Leadership