Research Briefing, October 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:

  • collaboration and cultural efficacy,
  • organizational blame shifting,
  • improving diabetes outcomes through cross‐sector collaboration,
  • the effect of an organization’s horizontal partnerships on employee identification, and
  • inter-organizational collaborations for humanitarian aid.

Defining, Achieving and Evaluating Collaborative Outcomes: A Theory of Change Approach,” Public Management Review, Valeria Guarneros-Meza, James Downe, and Steve Martin

Abstract: “Governments have repeatedly claimed that collaboration improves public service outcomes. However, defining, achieving, and evaluating collaborative outcomes is often problematic. Analysis of multi-sectoral projects in Wales, which were supported by the European Social Fund, exemplifies these challenges. Shifts in policy discourses and the interplay between national and local agendas produced complex and contested understandings of outcomes which made difficult to evaluate the projects’ achievements. We argue that the pursuit of collaboration needs to be understood not simply as an attempt to improve public service effectiveness but also ‘cultural efficacy’. The conclusions offer reflections relevant for theory and 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.”

Cross‐Sector Collaboration in the High‐Poverty Setting: Qualitative Results from a Community‐Based Diabetes Intervention,” Health Services Research, Tung et al.

Objective: To characterize the motivations of stakeholders from diverse sectors who engaged in cross‐sector collaboration with an academic medical center.

Principal Findings: All stakeholders described collaboration as an opportunity to promote community health in vulnerable populations. Among diverse motivations across organization types, stakeholders described collaboration as an opportunity for: financial support, brand enhancement, access to specialized skills or knowledge, professional networking, and health care system involvement in community‐based efforts. Based on our findings, we propose a framework for implementing a working knowledge of stakeholder motivations to facilitate effective cross‐sector collaboration.

Conclusions: We identified several factors that motivated collaboration across diverse sectors with health care systems to promote health in a high‐poverty, urban setting. Understanding these motivations will be foundational to optimizing meaningful cross‐sector collaboration and improving diabetes outcomes in the nation’s most vulnerable communities.”

The Company You Keep: How an Organization’s Horizontal Partnerships Affect Employee Organizational Identification,” Academy of Management, T. Bettina Cornwell, Jennifer Howard-Grenville, and Christian E. Hampel

Abstract: “Despite scholars’ recognition of the importance of external dynamics to employee organizational identification, this factor remains underexplored in today’s evermore interdependent organizations. We theorize about how organizational identification can be influenced by an employer’s horizontal partnerships with entities such as sports teams or charities. Drawing on insights from the organizational identification literature and marketing literature, we explore how events concerning an organization’s horizontal partner become salient to employees, how employees evaluate the implications of the partnership, and how their identification may shift as a result. Surprisingly, our model reveals that partnerships having low congruence may lead to significant positive identification shifts for some individuals, whereas partnerships that are seemingly positive for an organization may result in negative identification shifts. Our theorizing makes two important contributions. First, it introduces the potential of horizontal relationships with other organizations to shape the important work relationship of identification with the focal employing organization. Second, it outlines the processes through which horizontal partners can make a difference in work relationships and sets the stage to better understand how they can strengthen and hinder these relationships, as well as encroach on non-work life.”

Inter-organizational Collaborations for Humanitarian Aid: An Analysis of Partnership, Community, and Single Organization Outcomes,” Public Performance & Management Review, Isabella M. Nolte

Abstract: “This article explores collaborative activities across organizational and sectoral boundaries. Inter-organizational collaborations are an increasingly common setup to address societal needs; however, current research lacks insights into such collaborations and their outcomes. This study contributes to the existing literature by assessing empirically perceptions of inter-organizational collaboration outcomes, considering different dimensions that should be measured when planning and performing tasks of social interest. The article is set in the context of disaster relief, where actors from different humanitarian relief organizations within the public and nonprofit sector engage in collaborative activities. I describe how inter-organizational collaborations create outcomes for (1) the partnership structure that is established, (2) single organizational members involved in the collaborative activity, and (3) the community targeted by the inter-organizational operation.