Multiple Capacities, Multiple Outcomes: Delving Deeper Into the Meaning of Community Capacity


  • Thomas M Beckley University of New Brunswick
  • Diane Martz University of Saskatchewan
  • Solange Nadeau Natural Resources Canada
  • Ellen Wall University of Guelph
  • Bill Reimer Concordia University


Although community capacity is widely discussed in policy circles, the links between academic work on the subject and practical applications remain weak. This paper describes a high-generality conceptual model that represents a novel approach to depicting and articulating the concept of community capacity. The model describes four dimensions to community capacity: assets, catalysts, relational spheres, and outcomes. The latter category largely informs this work, since the main question addressed is, The capacity to do what? We also present an innovative visual tool for communicating the results from community capacity studies. The “asset amoebas” we present are graphical snapshots that allow readers to quickly discern a community’s capital base. The intent is to provide a tool useful to both communities and researchers alike.