Partnership Management: Working Across Organisational Boundaries Academic Article uri icon


  • The short paper that follows is fundamentally about evidence-based practice. In Kuruvilla, Mays, Pleasant and Walt's (2006) terms it was an exercise in the application of research to service development and evidence-based practice. In Walter, Nutley, and Davies' (2003) taxonomy it resulted in a professional intervention, the development of which was led by research users seeking evidence to inform practice development. The team emerged out of a social network of individuals interested in partnership development issues (Kalucy, McIntyre, & Jackson-Bowers, 2007). The resulting paper was the foundation for a significant investment, by the Department of Human Services, in building capacity for partnership leadership in Victoria. The team that undertook this research-to-practice project consisted of three Primary Care Partnership (PCP) executive officers/managers, one of whom was also executive officer to the Statewide Chairs and Managers Group, a university researcher, and a final year undergraduate student working as a volunteer. The executive officer to the Statewide Chairs and Managers Group formed the team to explore broad issues of PCP development and to report to the chairs. The Statewide Chairs and Managers Group was the pathway through which the group's work would reach decision-makers. After a series of meetings to clarify the issues to be addressed, a developmental process for working with the chairs and managers was designed. The executive officers/managers were key to clear issue definition and appropriate process; the researcher to linking the issues to the partnership evidence base. The process relied on tapping the tacit knowledge of PCP managers and chairs and relating this to the relevant body of research. In this process implicit learning needs in regard to partnership leadership were articulated within a framework developed out of a complex research project undertaken with similar partnerships elsewhere. The university researcher on the team had a long history of research into partnerships and networks in the field of primary health care. The specific research project in question was a National Health and Medical Research Council-funded study of trust in the relationships between organisations in a Primary Care Partnership. The study of trust in a partnership is necessarily a study of partnership processes more generally. It was the general learning about partnership processes from this and related research that turned out to be so useful for the service system. The report of this work, that follows, was written in a form suitable for decision-making. It is not a research report but it is built on strong research-based frameworks that were "tested" in the local context. The recommendations are specific to PCPs in Victoria but will also be familiar to partnership workers elsewhere. The predicted effects of the recommendations are supported by research evidence.

publication date

  • 2007