Chapter 2: Characteristics of partnerships
Partnerships take on many forms, and employ various structural models. Some are organizations, while others are loosely arranged. Some pursue short-term goals, while others address almost intractable challenges over protracted endless time horizons. Any increased understanding of partnerships must assume diversity and complexity. If established forms of governance in nations and municipalities are multidimensional, it is not surprising that new frameworks for governance follow no single model. Partnerships are far from monolithic. Additionally, many partnerships start with no particular template in mind. And even if they have a template, they may soon change course. These ever-evolving entities are not yet fully defined, but our understanding of how partnerships work grows. Representatives of the public, private, and nongovernmental sectors are increasingly participating in these new forms of collaboration. Participants’ experiences in cross sector partnerships are essential to improving our awareness of the potential of partnerships’ long-term value to society. The perspectives of some of these practitioners experienced in cross sector partnerships are integrated into this book’s exploration of the characteristics, value, effectiveness, and potential of partnerships. Focus groups solicited the thinking of various practitioners on these matters. There is no single set of characteristics of cross sector partnerships because of the numerous different manifestations of collaboration. How- ever, participants in partnerships, reflecting on their experiences, can idea some common characteristics. It is also important to recognize that most attempts at partnerships have not become as strategic as possible. Strategic partnerships incorporate an understanding of the typical strengths, challenges, and pitfalls of partnerships from the outset.
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