Research Briefing, August 2018

blogimage_researchbriefingEach month, there is new, fascinating research emerging that provides practical insight into how the government, business, and non-profit sectors partner to address society’s most pressing problems. To keep our readers up to date on this work, which comes from a variety of academic and non-academic sources, we compile a monthly briefing and publish it on our blog — for researchers who want to stay up to date on progress in the field of cross-sector collaboration and practitioners who are interested in how this research may be applicable to their work.

This month’s briefing includes articles and reports about:

  • the challenges of a philanthropy-private sector partnership,
  • public-private partnerships as a policy response to climate change,
  • public-private partnerships in promoting physical activity,
  • cross-sector partnerships in human services, and
  • power strategies in collaborative governance.

Learning From the Opportunities and Challenges of a Philanthropy-Private Sector Partnership,” The Foundation Review, Victoria Scott

Abstract: “Cross-sector partnerships are essential for addressing such complex social issues as improving population health. Among such partnerships, a philanthropy-private sector partnership is rare in practice; they may seem incompatible due to differences in their missions and cultures. However, these collaborations can yield positive returns for philanthropy organizations and businesses, as well as the broader community.

This article draws upon an evaluation of a partnership between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Humana Inc. to highlight key insights for forming and implementing a formal partnership between a philanthropy organization and an investor-owned business. Establishing and maintaining a philanthropy-private sector partnership is highly complex and challenging. For philanthropy staff interested in establishing a private-sector partnership, the findings suggest four key considerations: due diligence in exploring partnership fit, active engagement with philanthropy staff and in addressing key partnership issues, a process of co-creation on partnership activities, and continuous monitoring and assessment. Within these key considerations, this evaluation highlights unique organizational attributes that have important practical considerations for philanthropy-private sector partnerships. However, these considerations also have relevance for other types of cross-sector partnerships.”

Public-Private Partnerships as a Policy Response to Climate Change,” Energy Policy, Marco Buso and Anne Stenger

Abstract: “The negative impacts of climate change on the environment and economic activities are increasingly obvious and relevant. Private response to this threat often proves to be inadequate. For example, empirical evidence reveals a sub-optimal investment by firms in energy efficiency projects capable of reducing energy costs and CO2 emissions, as well as adaptation projects able to reduce the vulnerability of the ecosystem. On the other hand, past public programs that provided financial subsidies to the above-mentioned projects have proven to be not particularly cost-effective or able to enhance final performances.

In this paper, as an alternative to public subsidies, we propose and assess the opportunity to implement Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) where the public regulator plays a more active role in the investment choice. Precisely, we model the decision-making process through a Nash bargaining procedure between public and private actors. We end up with two main results: (i) compared to public subsidies, the use of PPPs leads to higher outcomes/performances and allows governments to overcome incompleteness in contracts; (ii) PPPs are optimally chosen only when there is a fair allocation of the bargaining power between the two sides and when bargaining procedures are not perceived as being too lengthy or costly.”

A Qualitative Systematic Review of Public-Private Partnership in Promoting Physical Activity,” Evaluation and the Health Professions, Younghan Lee, Lira Yun, Mi-Lyang Kim, and Marvin Washington

Abstract: “The purpose of the study is to conduct a comprehensive review of public-private partnership (PPP) literature that pertains to promoting physical activity. A qualitative systematic review guided data search and screening process, and the findings were synthesized and interpreted using a qualitative content analysis method. Literature was searched from 16 academic and 6 gray literature databases. A total of 1,117 articles were initially searched, full texts of 186 articles were assessed, and 13 articles that met the inclusion criteria were finally included. PPPs have been initiated in various contexts including implementing the pledge policy, program coordination, and infrastructure supports. Public-sector partners were identified in a range of vertical and horizontal levels. Private partners were mainly manufacturers and/or retailers related to physical activity, sport facility operators, professional sport teams, or companies for providing infrastructures for active transportation. Public and private organizations have performed various roles of funding the initiatives, developing and implementing diverse resources, and taking actions to deliver benefits to the communities. Several challenges were reported when developing, implementing, and evaluating the partnership initiatives. The outcomes of the current review can be utilized to anticipate pragmatic issues when public and private partners jointly participate in physical activity promotion.

Cross-Sector Partnerships in Human Services: Insights and Organizational Dilemmas,” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Michal Almog-Bar and Hillel Schmid

Abstract: “The article presents a mixed-method study of 15 cross-sector partnerships (CSPs) in human services. The study sought to examine the activities, organizational characteristics, and relationships among organizations from the government, nonprofit, and business sectors at three interrelated stages of the partnership: inputs, processes, and outcomes. The findings indicate that socialization prior to entering CSPs is an important component of building the partnership and attaining its espoused goals. Power struggles inhibit the achievement of goals in CSPs, whereas joint decision making and reaching a consensus contribute to achieving goals and added value in terms of improving the quality of services and clients’ well-being. The article presents insights and highlights the dilemmas that CSPs face with regard to their operation and processes. The implications of these dilemmas for establishing and managing effective CSPs as well as for nonprofit policy are discussed.

Power in and over Cross-Sector Partnerships: Actor Strategies for Shaping Collective Decisions,” Administrative Sciences, Art Dewulf and Willem Elbers

Abstract: “While cross-sector partnerships are sometimes depicted as a pragmatic problem solving arrangements devoid of politics and power, they are often characterized by power dynamics. Asymmetries in power can have a range of undesirable consequences as low-power actors may be co-opted, ignored, over-ruled, or excluded by dominant parties. As of yet, there has been relatively little conceptual work on the power strategies that actors in cross-sector partnerships deploy to shape collective decisions to their own advantage. Insights from across the literatures on multiparty collaboration, cross-sector partnerships, interactive governance, collaborative governance, and network governance, are integrated into a theoretical framework for empirically analyzing power sources (resources, discursive legitimacy, authority) and power strategies (power over and power in cross-sector partnerships). Three inter-related claims are central to our argument: (1) the intersection between the issue field addressed in the partnership and an actor’s institutional field shape the power sources available to an actor; (2) an actor can mobilize these power sources directly in strategies to achieve power in cross-sector partnerships; and, (3) an actor can also mobilize these power sources indirectly, through setting the rules of the game, to achieve power over partnerships. The framework analytically connects power dynamics to their broader institutional setting and allows for spelling out how sources of power are used in direct and indirect power strategies that steer the course of cross-sector partnerships. The resulting conceptual framework provides the groundwork for pursuing new lines of empirical inquiry into power dynamics in cross-sector partnerships.

Other recently released research on cross-sector collaboration: