Transformation and power in a multiorganizational partnership : a case study
Transformation and power in a multiorganizational partnership: A case study One of the challenges for multiorganizational partnerships is the inability of agencies involved to address or even be prepared to address issues of power. Power relations in partnerships are a neglected area in the literature (e.g. Hastings, 1999; Huxham and Vangen, 2005; Marsh and Murie, 1997; Martin, 1999). This case study contributes to this debate through an insider's perspective in the context of the author's experience working as a partnership manager and researcher. This was neither a neutral nor an objective engagement as I played an active part in the unfolding story as a powerful, reflexive actor. My inquiry addresses the issue of power in relation to transformation processes. Specifically set within an action inquiry strategy, the research focuses on the emergent nature of partnership transformation and the ways in which power manifested itself and influenced the Partnership's development. Partnerships open up opportunities for political activity through a reframing of activity in a domain, and whilst this can be positive in forging new relationships and generating new ideas, it can also have potentially negative effects for partnership transformation. The thesis offers a syntactical approach using first-, second-, and third-person voices in order to explicate a real partnership's transformation processes and power issues and to enhance validity through triangulation and integration of these perspectives. In the first-person the thesis concludes that greater recognition should be given to the critical role, competences and development needs of partnership professionals and particularly partnership managers as boundary spanners. In the second-person the inquiry claims that more attention could usefully be focused on intra-partnership conflict as a means of improving partnership effectiveness. In the third-person voice the study concludes that remedial action may be necessary to resolve shadows of the past that may continue to blight partnership transformation and that the under-resourcing of partnerships is a critical issue for partnerships.