noun part·ner·ship \ ˈpärt-nər-ˌship \
Definition of partnership
:an arrangement in which people engage in an activity or business with one another or share something with each other
There is growing public sector interest in partnerships. Once found only in the private sector, the concept of partnering is increasingly important to how the public sector approaches:
- resource constraints,
- increasingly complex problems, and
- implementation of sustainable solutions.
In this new series of articles, we will discuss new concepts in public sector partnering. We outline the elements of a good partnership. We also provide some suggestions for assessing partnerships governance and performance.
It is important to define partners as being different from stakeholders. Partners bring resources to the fight. Stakeholders bring issues, points of view, and positions. Partners invest time, talent, and treasure – the 3 Ts – to mutually determined problems.
As public sector budgets remain flat, or decline, hiring and contracting for services are no longer options. The public sector is increasingly seeking partners to provide the skills, funding, data, staff, and competencies that it does not possess. We refer to this joining of resources as “collaborative capital.” Collaborative capital is the sharing of intellectual capital, political capital, labor, and financial capital among many organizations to address a defined problem.
- Intellectual Capital: the data, unique processes, software, and insight that is the basis of each partner’s business model. It includes the ability to confer legitimacy on any of the above.
- Political Capital: the ability of each partner to influence public policy, regulation, law, and public budgets.
- Labor: the staff and volunteers each partner can commit toward ongoing governance, developing solutions, and implementation.
- Financial Capital: the actual dollar funding each partner provides toward the solution.
Each of these 4 elements of collaborative capital are generally required to solve public sector problems. Each partner should provide some or all the 4. Some partners bring only one of the above and others all four. The most successful partnerships have the necessary and sufficient partners to provide all 4 types of collaborative capital.
In the next segment, we will discuss each of the collaborative capital elements in more detail, and how they play out in public sector partnering.