10 Notable Resources from 2018

blogimage-resource-libraryIn the New Year, we’re reflecting on a great year of articles, reports, case studies and more from our Resource Library — a section of our website where practitioners, researchers, and anyone exploring the field of cross-sector collaboration can search and filter through hundreds of quality resources (from research organizations, advisory groups, training organizations, academic centers and journals, and more) to discover findings, thoughtful commentary, examples, and tools to improve their cross-sector collaboration thinking and practice. Here’s our list, along with authors’ abstracts, of some of the most interesting resources on cross-sector collaboration published in 2018.

Evaluating Collaboration: The Solution to One Problem Often Causes Another,” Public Administration Review, Chris Silvia

Abstract: “Collaboration has become the predominant approach to solving complex public problems. This choice, however, often is not driven by demonstrated effectiveness. Collaboration is instead chosen in the hope that a networked arrangement will be more effective than individual organizations working on the issue alone. Questions regarding collaborative effectiveness persist and constitute a significant challenge facing both public management practitioners and public administration scholars. In light of the case study in this issue of Public Administration Review by Maurits Waardenburg and colleagues, this article reviews the current thinking on the measurement of collaborative performance and discusses steps that professionals can take to evaluate the effectiveness of their collaborative endeavors.

Coping with Value Conflicts in Interorganizational Collaborations,” Perspectives on Public Management and Governance, Stephen B. Page, Melissa M. Stone, John M. Bryson, and Barbara C. Crosby

Abstract: “Because they reflect clashing beliefs about the desired ends and means of public policy, value conflicts are challenging and sometimes even impossible to resolve. If the increasingly widespread use of collaborative governance is to bear fruit, researchers and practitioners need to understand how collaborations cope with value conflicts. This article identifies constructs and coding guidelines for studying value conflicts and coping mechanisms in collaborations. We use them to analyze longitudinal data from a 7-year case study of the Minnesota Urban Partnership Agreement, an interorganizational collaboration in the transportation field. Our research demonstrates that value conflicts in the early phases of a collaboration may relate to its goals and the problem(s) it addresses, while conflicts in later phases of collaboration may focus on process values such as accountability or legitimacy. Our findings indicate that a collaboration may use some coping mechanisms more than others, and that its decision process may affect which coping mechanism(s) it uses to address a value conflict. We conclude with implications for research.”

Cross-Sector Partnerships: An Examination of Success Factors,” Business and Society Review, Laura Pincus Hartman and Kanwalroop Kathy Dhanda

Abstract: “In this paper, we examine the drivers involved in an alternative business model: cross-sector social partnerships (CSSPs) between for-profit, predominantly multinational corporations (MNCs) and nonprofit organizations (NPOs). We explore these cross-sector social partnerships (CSSPs) from the perspective of these primary stakeholders, examining the questions of power differentials and the definitions and determinants of success. In order more deeply to understand these drivers, we review the evolution of the concept of ‘value’ and the perception of the value that each stakeholder brings to the partnership. We then describe and offer the results of an empirical, qualitative study of 18 CSSPs, where we analyze each partner’s representations of success, outcomes sought and distinctions in determinants of value within the partnerships.”

Capturing Collaborative Challenges: Designing Complexity-Sensitive Theories of Change for Cross-Sector Partnerships,” Journal of Business Ethics, Rob van Tulder and Nienke Keen

Abstract: “Systems change requires complex interventions. Cross-sector partnerships (CSPs) face the daunting task of addressing complex societal problems by aligning different backgrounds, values, ideas and resources. A major challenge for CSPs is how to link the type of partnership to the intervention needed to drive change. Intervention strategies are thereby increasingly based on Theories of Change (ToCs). Applying ToCs is often a donor requirement, but it also reflects the ambition of a partnership to enhance its transformative potential. The current use of ToCs in partnering efforts varies greatly. There is a tendency for a linear and relatively simple use of ToCs that does limited justice to the complexity of the problems partnerships aim to address. Since partnership dynamics are already complex and challenging themselves, confusion and disagreement over the appropriate application of ToCs is likely to hamper rather than enhance the transformative potential of partnerships. We develop a complexity alignment framework and a diagnostic tool that enables partnerships to better appreciate the complexity of the context in which they operate, allowing them to adjust their learning strategy. This paper applies recent insights into how to deal with complexity from both the evaluation and theory of change fields to studies investigating the transformative capacity of partnerships. This can (1) serve as a check to define the challenges of partnering projects and (2) can help delineate the societal sources and layers of complexity that cross-sector partnerships deal with such as failure, insufficient responsibility taking, and collective action problems at four phases of partnering.”

Does Cross-Sector Collaboration Lead to Higher Non-profit Capacity?,” Journal of Business Ethics, Michelle Shumate, Jiawei Sophia Fu, and Katherine R. Cooper

Abstract: “Cross-sector social partnership (CSSP) case-based theory and research have long argued that non-profits that engage in more integrative and enduring cross-sector partnerships should increase their organizational capacity. By increasing their capacity, non-profits increase their ability to contribute to systemic change. The current research investigates this claim in a large-scale empirical research study. In particular, this study examines whether non-profits that have a greater number of integrated cross-sector partnerships have greater capacities for financial management, strategic planning, external communication, board leadership, mission orientation, and staff management than non-profits that have other types of interorganizational relationships. Moreover, it examines whether the length of these partnerships is associated with better capacity. Hierarchical multiple regression analysis drawn from surveys of 452 non-profit organizations suggests that cross-sector collaboration is not systematically related to increased capacity. However, the results suggest that more enduring relationships between government and non-profit organizations that extend beyond funder-recipient relationships are related to greater strategic planning capacity. Implications for CSSP research are drawn from the results, especially those concerned with the outcomes of CSSPs.”

Cross-Sector Partnerships for Systemic Change: Systematized Literature Review and Agenda for Further Research,” Journal of Business Ethics, Amelia Clarke and Andrew Crane

Abstract: “The literature on cross-sector partnerships has increasingly focused attention on broader systemic or system-level change. However, research to date has been partial and fragmented, and the very idea of systemic change remains conceptually underdeveloped. In this article, we seek to better understand what is meant by systemic change in the context of cross-sector partnerships and use this as a basis to discuss the contributions to the Thematic Symposium. We present evidence from a broad, multidisciplinary systematized review of the extant literature, develop an original definition of systemic change, and offer a framework for understanding the interactions between actors, partnerships, systemic change, and issues. We conclude with some suggestions for future research that we believe will enhance the literature in its next phase of development.”

Collaborating in the Absence of Trust? What Collaborative Governance Theory and Practice Can Learn From the Literatures of Conflict Resolution, Psychology, and Law,” The American Review of Public Administration, Heather Getha-Taylor, Misty J. Grayer, Robin J. Kempf, and Rosemary O’Leary

Abstract: “Trust is often touted as both an element of success and an outcome of interest in collaboration research, usually without defining the term or acknowledging the possibility of collaborating when trust is diminished or absent. This article broadens our theoretical understanding of the concept of trust, and the ability to collaborate in the absence of trust, by looking at it through the lenses of conflict resolution, psychology, and law. The disciplines examined in this article emphasize diverse approaches to examining trust on the interpersonal, interorganizational, and regime levels. While agreeing that trust is an asset, these disciplines also offer practical strategies for collaborating when trust is diminished or absent. Drawing on the theory and literature of conflict resolution, psychology, and law, we offer the following definition of collaborative trust: Collaborative trust is an individual perception that is the product of one’s assessments, experiences, and dispositions, in which one believes, and is willing to act on, the words, actions, and decisions of others. This can include a reliance on principles, rules, norms, and decision-making procedures that articulate collective expectations.”

The Complex Problems That Government Can’t Solve by Itself,” Governing, Philip Joyce

“Over the last couple of decades both academics and practitioners have been more systematically focused on examples and prescriptions where the sectors work together to address public problems. This is much broader than contracting out or public-private partnerships, as typically these more traditional arrangements involve a collaboration among two sectors — public and private, or public and nonprofit — but not all three. These are questions not of how government will address these issues, but rather questions of governance that involve all three sectors.

Collaborative governance, nonetheless, is here to stay. The relevant question is not whether the sectors work together. The important questions involve whether such collaboration is appropriate in a given circumstance, how such partnerships can be successfully structured and how well they work in practice.

Tua culpa: When an Organization Blames Its Partner for Failure in a Shared Task,” Academy of Management, Brian S. Park, Hyunwoo Park, and Rangaraj Ramanujam

Abstract: “We examine the growing but understudied phenomenon of organizational blame shifting in the wake of failure in an interorganizationally shared task. Organizational blame shifting, which can take private as well as public forms, represents an organization’s attempt to shape both the partner’s and the public’s sensemaking of the failure. Blame shifting enables an organization to limit its financial responsibility and contain potential reputational damage after failure. However, when organizations shift blame, they expose themselves to the risks of relationship dissolution and backlash from the public. We examine the cost-benefit analysis that drives organizational blame shifting, detail the failure-level and organization-level factors behind such decisions, and identify several outcomes of organizational blame shifting. This article contributes to the literature on inter-organizational work relationships by shedding light on the mechanisms of organizational blame shifting.”

Reimagining Public-Private Partnerships,” GovLab, Stefaan Verhulst and Andrew J. Zahuranec

“For years, public-private partnerships (PPPs) have promised to help governments do more for less. Yet, the discussion and experimentation surrounding PPPs often focus on outdated models and narratives, and the field of experimentation has not fully embraced the opportunities provided by an increasingly networked and data-rich private sector.

Typically PPPs develop or manage physical infrastructures such as roads, telecom networks, energy plants or health facilities. More recently, both the public and private sector have experienced major transformations in how they address complex and interdependent problems.

To maximize the value of PPPs, we don’t just need new tools or experiments but new models for using assets and expertise in different sectors. We need to bring that capacity to public problems.

At the latest convening of the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Opening Governance, Network members and experts from across the field tried to chart this new course by exploring questions about the future of PPPs.