Research Briefing, January 2017

blogimage_researchbriefingEach month, there is new, fascinating research emerging that provides practical insight into the intersector — the space where collaboration among government, business, and non-profit sectors enables leaders to share expertise, resources, and authority to address society’s most pressing problems. To keep our readers up to date, we compile a monthly briefing that captures the newest research, 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 about

  • school-church partnerships and African American student success,
  • forms of representation in food policy councils,
  • the effect of organizational structure on choosing to partner in emergency management,
  • viewing partnerships through the lens of institutional logics and negotiated culture,
  • the role of expectations in multiorganizational collaboration,
  • alliance management capabilities in cross-sector partnerships,
  • and public-private partnerships in early childhood development.

Supporting African American Student Success Through Prophetic Activism: New Possibilities for Public School–Church Partnerships,” Urban Education, Diedria H. Jordan and Camille M. Wilson

Abstract: “This article describes how African American students’ success can be improved via the increased support of Black churches and their partnerships with public schools. Findings and implications from a comparative case study of two North Carolina churches that strive to educationally assist African American public school students are detailed. Both churches have outreach programs in local schools, and their activities indicate the value of faith-based partnerships embodying ‘prophetic activism’ that benefits broader communities and empowers African Americans overall. We draw upon the study’s findings to recommend partnership strategies for church and public educational leaders.”

Representation in Collaborative Governance: A Case Study of a Food Policy Council,” The American Review of Public Administration, Chris Koski, Saba Siddiki, Abdul-Akeem Sadiq, and Julia Carboni

Abstract: “Representation is a hallmark of democratic governance. Widely studied within traditional modes of governance, representation is less studied in alternative governance settings, such as collaborative governance arrangements. Collaborative governance arrangements are specifically designed to encourage inclusion and participation among a diverse array of stakeholders in some part of the policy process. Our research contrasts different forms of representation observed in a collaborative governance arrangement and identifies factors contributing to observed patterns in representation therein. We analyze descriptive representation (i.e., ‘representation in form’) or substantive representation (i.e., ‘representation in practice’) and look for inconsistencies between them. Our case study is a regional food policy council located in the Western United States. Among our findings is that discrepancies between descriptive and substantive representation can be explained by shared goals, local norms, organizational structure, and heterogeneity in member capacity. We conclude our article with a discussion of the theoretical and practical implications of this research.”

Organizational Structure and Collaboration: Emergency Management Agencies and Their Choice to Work With Voluntary Organizations in Planning,” Risks, Hazards & Crisis in Public Policy, Jason Rivera

Abstract: “Despite the growing literature that explains how organization structure develops or changes, there are very few studies that seek to investigate the influence that an organization’s structure has on its decision to work across sectors in emergency management (EM). Using EM as a context, this study observes the influence that organizational autonomy has on an agency’s choice to work with voluntary organizations in the development of EM plans. Through the analysis of a national survey of county EM agencies, this study finds that an organization’s autonomy does not influence its choice to work with voluntary organizations in the development of EM plans; however, the type of organization an EM agency is situated in does. Finally, recommendations for future research are presented to better understand why autonomous organizations enter into cross-sector collaborations.”

Merging Institutional Logics and Negotiated Culture Perspectives to Help Cross-Sector Partnerships Solve the World’s Most Wicked Problems,” Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference, Sarah Easter and Mary Yoko Brannen

Abstract: “Showcasing a sixteen-month ethnographic study of a coalition to end homelessness in Western Canada, we show how the integration of two theoretical perspectives — institutional logics and negotiated culture — can be used as complementary, yet distinct lenses to better inform the practice of cross-sector partnerships which tackle the world’s wicked problems. In doing so, we highlight how we were able to holistically capture the meaning systems at work in such multi-faceted partnerships resulting in a better understanding of how partnerships can work across difference to affect positive social change. In particular, we capture how multiple stakeholders make sense of a partnership’s identity in a variety of different ways based upon meaning systems with which they identify at multiple levels as well as how they enact bridging skills across meaning-related boundaries to promote more effective partner interface.”

Institutional Frames and Collaboration Expectations in Hybrid Interorganizational Partnerships,” Academy of Management Proceedings, Paula Ungureanu, Francesca Bellesia, Fabiola Bertolotti, and Elisa Mattarelli

Abstract: “Our research is concerned with the role played by expectations in hybrid interorganizational collaboration projects. In particular, we look at how organizations participating in multi-party cross-sector partnerships negotiate broad and ill-defined metaproblems set by policymakers to carry forward heterogeneous goals about the partnership. We used a process-perspective derived from the sociology of expectations to empirically study a hybrid partnership in which public and private actors came together with the broad goal of supporting regional innovation and creating and managing a new science park. In particular, we found that the ambiguity of institutional frames gave room to the proliferation of partners’ expectations about the collaboration. Such proliferation was driven by a clash between the pile-up of goals and commitments in relation to the main project of the partnership -i.e. the design of the science park- and the materialization of the project itself -i.e. the realization and use of the science park. Instead of admitting difficulties in making the science park function properly (i.e., managing the clash) our actors continuously alimented their positive expectations about the collaboration thanks to a rolling announcements strategy that constantly pushed expectations further into the future. We offer contributions to a better understanding of collaborative dynamics in hybrid partnership failure by surfacing the negative power of expectations, the dual role of materiality as collaboration enabler and constrainer, and the interplay between broadly defined institutional frames and the proliferation of heterogeneous goals within hybrid partnerships.”

Alliance Management Capabilities in Non-Market Setting: The Case of Cross-Sector Collaboration,” Academy of Management Proceedings, Omar Al-Tabaa and Desmond Leach

Abstract: “Alliance management capabilities (AMCs) are typically perceived as higher-order resources that can affect an organization’s ability to derive value from inter-organizational collaboration. Extant research has predominantly focused on business-to-business relationships. In this paper, we examine AMCs in a nontraditional (non-market) context: nongovernment-business collaboration (NBC). Furthermore, we assess AMCs from the perspective of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Using qualitative data obtained from interviews with 38 employees (who represented 26 UK- based NGOs), along with evidence from organizational documents, we identified three distinct groups of NGO-specific AMCs: pre-collaboration, post-collaboration, and hybrid capabilities. These capabilities embody the way in which NGOs attract, establish, and manage collaborative linkages with businesses. In particular, the hybrid capabilities, which are utilized before and during the collaboration, emphasize the importance of learning processes and stakeholder management throughout the collaboration process. More general, the findings show that NGOs leverage their AMCs through two strategic actions, namely exploring and exploiting, which contributes to the Resource-Based View theory by explaining the pathway between capabilities and realized value.”

Public-private partnerships in early childhood development: The role of publicly funded private provision, Brookings Institution, Emily Gustafsson-Wright, Katie Smith, and Sophie Gardner

Abstract: “This study seeks to provide clarity on the different forms and classification of PPPs and concentrates on a subset of PPP models that are publicly-financed and privately-delivered early childhood development (ECD) services. Namely, this subset is inclusive of vouchers and voucher-like programs, education service delivery initiatives, and the private management of public institutions. Specifically, the study explores the application of PPPs for pre-primary education and parent education about early stimulation in particular, analyzing the potential to address capacity constraints as well as the potential challenges in their use. This is a research area that deserves greater attention given the limited robust analysis to date.”