My name is Sharon M. Wasco and, as a community psychologist, I frequently adopt participatory approaches to evaluation. I often say, “Commitment to collaboration guides my work,” and this post is organized to answer three questions about collaboration.
Hot Tip: What does collaboration mean? To me, collaboration means two or more partners working together in ways that increase capacity to achieve a stated goal.
Below is my visualization of Chris Huxham’s (1996) typology of ways that organizations (and/or individuals) can work together. Collaboration is the highest level of functioning, with capacity building as the collaborative advantage.
Cool Trick: How can we observe — or recognize — collaboration in our work? Synergy can be used as an indicator of collaboration.
The Center for the Advancement of Collaborative Strategies in Health developed a theoretical framework that specified SYNERGY as a measurable output of a collaborative relationship, and as a precondition of partnership effectiveness.
Rad Resource: Can collaboration be measured? The Partnership Self Assessment Tool is a survey and a process to measure collaboration in the field. There are nine items that make up the measure of synergy, as shown below.
Along with partners at the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Strategic Prevention Solutions, I’ve used this tool in the evaluation of a five-year primary prevention initiative focused on strategies at the “outer layers” of the SEM.
FCADV’s community and social change efforts included Coalition Building, which has been defined as “a strategy designed to increase two or more organizations’ abilities to work collaboratively on statewide or community prevention programs, policies, or resources” (read more about IPV prevention strategies here).
FCADV-Certified DV Centers convened Community Action Teams (CATs) to plan and implement prevention activities in over 40 diverse communities across Florida. The PSAT allowed us to measure increased collaboration and to document success of the CATs!
Hot Tips: Not every working group is meant to collaborate. A partnership has been defined as a group of people and organizations 1) that continually work together to develop and modify strategies to achieve their goals 2) has begun to take action to implement its plans 3) has at least five active members 4) exists for at least six months.
To qualify as a group-level indicator, PSAT methodology requires at least 65% of the group to complete the survey within thirty days.
Rad Resources: Read more about different working relationships in the Community Toolbox.
Read more about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Domestic Violence Prevention Enhancements and Leadership Through Alliances, Focusing on Outcomes for Communities United with States‘s (DELTA FOCUS) initiative to prevent intimate partner violence.
Find the Partnership Self-Assessment Tool on the registry of the National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools.
The American Evaluation Association is celebrating CP TIG Week with our colleagues in the Community Psychology Topical Interest Group. The contributions all week come from CP TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org.