Sustainable development assistance organizations (SDAOs) aim to help producers of natural resource products move their goods and services to market. This article explores how the cognitive frames held by producers, staff, and board members in an agricultural SDAO in rural Appalachia influence organizational decision-making. This study explores identity, characterization, value, and membership frames. Data collected through semi-structured interviews with growers, staff, and board members reveal that the frames these stakeholders hold lead to the institutionalization of decision-making processes that allow organizational managers to make quick, consistent, and clear decisions while avoiding conflicts among members who hold competing frames. Simultaneously, these tacitly-supported practices are exclusionary, and they limit creativity and information exchange, as well as reducing transparency. Consequently, the SDAO may face organizational challenges due to limited problem-solving and adaptive management capabilities. Additionally, the prevailing nature of some members’ frames may prevent other participants from changing their views of the SDAO, limiting the firm’s flexibility to experiment with new management and organizational structures and resilience in the face of change.

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