PD Presenters Week: Rebecca Woodland on Evaluating Organizational Collaboration

My name is Rebecca Woodland and I have had the pleasure of working to evaluate and cultivate organizational collaboration in a range of contexts and for many different purposes. In this post I’ll share tips that evaluators can use in the developmental, formative, and summative evaluation of inter-organizational and inter-personal collaboration. I’m excited to be delivering an AEA 2015 pre-conference workshop that goes into detail about these hot tips – maybe I’ll see you there!

Hot Tip #1 – Make collaboration less messy. Though ubiquitous, “collaboration” persists as an under-empiricized concept. One of the first things that evaluators looking to assess collaboration will need to do is to operationlize the construct. Familiarize yourself with collaboration theory and find specific suggestions for facilitating a shared understanding of collaboration in…Utilizing Collaboration Theory to Evaluate Strategic Alliances, and the Collaboration Evaluation and Improvement Framework. 

Hot Tip #2 – More collaboration is not always better. Levels of integration between organizations matter, but the scope and scale of integration should match the purpose and goals of the alliance.

  • The Levels of Organizational Integration Rubric (LOIR) describes five possible levels of inter-organizational integration and the purposes, strategies/tasks, leadership/decision-making, and communication characteristics that tend to be present in each. Use the LOIR to measure and cultivate ideal levels of inter-organizational collaboration.

Hot Tip #3 – Avoid “co-blaboration.” The evaluation of inter-personal collaboration can help organizational stakeholders avoid “collaboration lite,” whereby mere congeniality and imprecise conversation are confused with the type of disciplined inquiry vital to the diffusion of innovation and attainment of essential outcomes.

  • The Team Collaboration Assessment Rubric (TCAR) describes four fundamental elements of high-quality inter-personal collaboration: dialogue, decision-making, action, and evaluation. Evaluators are encouraged to adapt and administer the TCAR in ways that are most feasible, useful, and appropriate for the context of their program evaluation.

Hot Tip #4 – Use Social Network Analysis (SNA) methods (if you don’t already). SNA is a sophisticated, yet accessible, means for assessing organizational collaboration. Evaluators can use SNA to mathematically describe and visually see how “ties” between organizations or people form, and how these “links” may influence program implementation and the attainment of desired outcomes.

Rad Resource:

Coalitions that Work® offers excellent tools for evaluating coalitions and partnerships that are available in .pdf format.

Want to learn more? Register for Evaluating and Improving Organizational Collaboration at Evaluation 2015 in Chicago, IL!

This week, we’re featuring posts by people who will be presenting Professional Development workshops at Evaluation 2015 in Chicago, IL. Click here for a complete listing of Professional Development workshops offered at Evaluation 2015. 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 aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

5 thoughts on “PD Presenters Week: Rebecca Woodland on Evaluating Organizational Collaboration”

  1. I like the fact that you made the tips short and sweet. You listed topics that persons or groups working together run into everday. Either you have to many hands in the pot or not enough hands helping to stir whats cooking. Too many times in orginzations, it is hard to get different sections to work together or get them not to work together. Striking a working balance, like what your tips suggest is good for all parties involved. Thanks!

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