Session: The Complexity of Collaborative Practice: Benefits and Challenges As Mutually-Informing (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

95 The Complexity of Collaborative Practice: Benefits and Challenges As Mutually-Informing

Friday, January 18, 2019: 9:45 AM-11:15 AM
Union Square 21 Tower 3, 4th Floor (Hilton San Francisco)
Cluster: Organizations & Management (O&M)
Marianna Colvin, PhD, Florida Atlantic University, Shari Miller, PhD, University of Georgia and Leslie Meskin, MSW, Florida Atlantic University
When considering the grand challenges of the 21st century world, effective and meaningful collaboration in community-service settings is essential, and includes key efforts like the use of multi-disciplinary teams in schools and hospitals, contracted services, and fostering integration between large-scale systems like child welfare and behavioral health. The complexities of inter-organizational, multi- and inter-disciplinary, and interprofessional responses parallel the complexity of the issues they are designed to address. When considering a Grand Challenge like the call to end “Gender Based, Family, and Community Violence”, it becomes evident that no one profession can go it alone. Given the complexity and variability of collaboration, and the practice settings within which it manifests, an empirically-informed and enhanced understanding of the benefits of inter-organizational practice is critical to guide practitioners, administrators, and policy-makers in their attempts to navigate current and shifting service landscapes.

There is a prominent focus in the literature on the challenges of collaboration, with much less-emphasis placed on examining benefits. This roundtable focuses on the necessary intersection of benefits and challenges in informing the extent to which collaborative practices can serve as a vehicle to address the needs of vulnerable populations. To lay the groundwork for discussion, panelists will first offer an evidence-informed model detailing benefits and challenges of collaboration. The model emerged out of a mixed-methods network analysis, with data derived from 80 organizations in a community-practice setting and reflects perspectives on collaboration from diverse stakeholders active in human service delivery. Participants will likewise be invited to apply a multi-stakeholder view of benefits with recognition that benefits arguably manifest at different, sometimes distinct, and sometimes interchangeable levels - the client/community-level, organizational-level, and a network-level, whereby benefits can be experienced collectively by a network as a separate functioning entity. While identifying specific benefits and challenges, the model provides support for the idea that any single measure of collaborative performance is problematic and a portion of the roundtable discussion will be dedicated to hearing different perspectives among panelists and participants about how scholars, administrators, and policy-makers conceptualize, foster, and measure the products of collaborative practice, specifically viewing collaboration as a dynamic construct reciprocally related to inter-organizational and practice context.

A component of this discussion will emphasize a potential thread between challenges and benefits and whether the benefits of collaboration are achievable without adaptation informed specifically by overcoming challenges. In the interest of prompting dialogue, facilitators will use applied examples to invite participants to consider the reciprocal intersection between the two and discuss avenues for how to build a deeper and more pragmatic understanding of the complex interrelationship between challenges and benefits with the goal to maximize the latter. In this discussion, benefits and challenges will be conceptualized as mutually-informing and an exploration of the mechanisms related to network adaptation will be considered, including the wide‐ranging considerations for designing and studying the scope and goals of inter-organizational relationships. By recognizing with clarity and greater precision the benefits of collaboration, organizations and communities can be better prepared to hone how they implement networked practice.

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