Levels of Partnership

Model adapted from “Measuring Collaboration among Grant Partners” – Frey, Lohmeier, Lee, Tollefson, University of Kansas (2006)

Networking At this level, businesses simply exchange information to help each other do a better job (mutual benefit).  Usually, an integral part of attending a conference or workshop is to network with other businesses  This may involve swapping business cards and ideas.  Businesses may share newsletters or become involved in the same networks, receiving and sharing information.  There is no commitment to become involved beyond networking and does not require a lot of trust.
Coordinating A Coordinating relationship happens when businesses modify their activities for a common purpose.  A group of chemists  may stagger their services so that customers have access to services day and night, or training providers could coordinate when they deliver courses to avoid courses happening at the same time and to allow more choice. A Coordinating relationship requires more commitment, time and trust than a Networking relationship, but there are more benefits to clients.
Cooperation Taking Coordinating to the next level, Cooperation extends to sharing resources – people, physical and financial – to help each other to do a better job. Sharing expertise and resources brings into play not just a high level of commitment and trust, but also working with different organisational cultures and values.  Businesses must be prepared to surrender some of their ‘turf’, share ownership and share responsibility. In the community sector, an organisation may look after the payroll for smaller local centres.
Collaboration When businesses work together to enhance each other’s capacity to do their jobs, this is called collaboration.  They work together for mutual benefit and a common purpose.  Each partner wants to help the others the best way they can.  They share risks, responsibilities and rewards.  Through collaboration the potential for change can be greater than the first three relationships.  It requires a high level of commitment and trust, similar values and a common philosophy.  Organisational culture may also be part of the collaborative relationship. Joint ventures for selling online professional development for businesses, involving a business with a significant online mailing list and a business with the online training program are examples of collaboration.
Integration At this level, systems and processes become one across the partners.  This supports models such as secretariats and mergers.
 Check out your partnership level using the Partnerships Level Checklist  and apply these to the Foundation Summary.


Levels of Partnerships 1 Levels of Partnerships 2
Foundations Summary Partnerships Levels Checklist