Collaborations among organizations from public, private, and nonprofit sectors — formally known as cross-sector collaborations — are an increasingly popular method to impact social change. Below are three studies we’re working on in the lab that take a closer look at the impact of these networks:

1. The role of conveners in cross-sector collaborative governance

Authors: Katherine R. Cooper, Rong Wang, Anne-Marie Boyer, Jack L. Harris, Joshua-Paul Miles, Michelle Shumate
Summary: Cross-sector collaborations are becoming increasingly prevalent in communities that are trying to address critical social issues. These collaborations are often convened or managed by a single organization that is given the responsibility to drive missions, manage conflicts, and ensure that the alliance is sustained in the longer term. In this research, we’re taking a closer look at conveners in 28 educational collaborations and the processes they undertake to rally together organizations from various sectors around a common cause.

2. Understanding the role of United Way leadership in cross-sector collaborations: Implications for philanthropy and network leadership

Authors: Anne-Marie Boyer, Michelle Shumate
Summary: One of the most pressing concerns in the study of cross-sector collaborations is the role that foundations play, which could vary from leading the collaboration to merely funding it. In this study, we examine the role of United Way in 24 community-based cross-sector educational coalitions to see the effect of their role in the network on relationships with other partner organizations. The implications for this research will help broaden our understanding of philanthropic organizations in leadership roles and governance of collaborations.

3. The equity imperative: Examining community engagement strategies of planned and emergent networks

Authors: Joshua-Paul Miles, Anne-Marie Boyer, Michelle Shumate
Summary: This paper uncovers the ways in which educationally-focused cross-sector networks engage with under-served communities. Twenty-eight education-focused community networks participated in the study. Interviews, organizational surveys, and archival data are used to evaluate the degree to which these networks engage in transformational equity practices. Using fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis, this study examines the impact of community poverty, network age, organizational composition, ties to national network organizations, and network governance on the use of cross-sector collaborations.