Edited by Bruce A. Seaman and Dennis R. Young
Chapter 6: Collaboration versus Competition in the Third Sector
Renée A. Irvin Introduction The scholarly literature calls for greater collaboration among nonprofit organizations to achieve outcomes that would not be attainable if each organization worked in isolation (Kettl, 2006). Foundations, too, see duplicative effort in the nonprofit sector and often encourage grant seekers to collaborate with other organizations in their community (Golden, 2001). Unfortunately, nonprofit organizations themselves seem reluctant to engage in collaborative efforts, unless motivated to do so with external funding from grant makers (Knickmeyer et al., 2003; National Council on Aging, 2005; Foster and Meinhard, 2002; Schambra, 2004). To illustrate, the following is a community situation that seems quite dysfunctional. Knickmeyer et al. (2003, p. 13) describe a study of ten urban neighborhood associations in close proximity to one another: all ten associations are struggling to address the same community issues with a small number of active members. There is no evidence of joining forces with each other to resolve their common problems . . . even when members of community associations recognize the value of collaboration and express interest in collaborating with others, they have difficulty translating that desire into actual collaborative projects. Why are they not collaborating? Do the stakeholders in the ten neighborhood associations not see the potential benefits in joining forces? We shall return later to the puzzle with two solutions depending upon the reader’s point of view. We shall see that there is little reason for the ten associations to collaborate, yet we shall also point out one potential arena where joint efforts could...
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