Utilizing Collaboration Theory to Evaluate Strategic Alliances

By Rebecca Gajda


Increasingly, collaboration between business, non-profit, health and educational agencies is being championed as a powerful strategy to achieve a vision otherwise not possible when independent entities work alone. But the definition of collaboration is elusive and it is often difficult for organizations to put collaboration into practice and assess it with certainty. Program evaluators can assist practitioners concerned with the development of a strategic alliance predicated on collaboration by understanding and utilizing principles of collaboration theory. The Strategic Alliance Formative Assessment Rubric (SAFAR) is an assessment tool that captures central principles of collaboration and has been used as part of a four-step evaluation process to help alliance leaders, managers, and members in Safe School/Healthy Student Initiatives to quantitatively and qualitatively gauge, celebrate, and communicate the relative strength of their collaborative endeavor over time. The collaboration principles and corresponding assessment processes described in this article can be used by evaluators of large- or small-scale initiatives that seek to capitalize on the synergistic power of the “collaborative effort.”

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