How the Contributions of Conveners Achieve Collaboration Goals
Gepraegs, Renate May
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Collaboration is considered to be an alternative strategic planning approach for delivering services and addressing organization mandates. These initiatives provide an opportunity “in which autonomous actors interact through formal and informal negotiation, jointly creating rules and structures governing their relationship” (Thomson and Perry 2006, 23). Stakeholders recognize the potential for increasing organizational capacity by engaging in relationships that collectively address common concerns through the integration and coordination of resources. The underlying principle of this research is to provide insight on the contributions that are required to facilitate initiatives and engage stakeholders in processes that achieve collaborative goals. This research assesses the motivations needed to participate in integrated planning strategies and identifies the resources required to create the capacity to support successful outcomes. The primary purpose of the research is to provide stakeholders with knowledge and appreciation for the complexities involved in collaborating, with a particular focus on the human resources that are necessary to facilitate stakeholder relations. The objectives of the research are to undertake a qualitative evaluation of stakeholders’ experiences involved with a collaborative initiative and to determine how the collaboration goals of participants are achieved. The Habitat Conservation and Stewardship Program (HCSP) was identified as a case study, because it provided an ideal opportunity to evaluate a public sector agency that was motivated to initiate integrated planning strategies. Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) implemented the HCSP to “enhance habitat protection and expand community capacity to steward fish habitat resources” (HCSP Evaluation Team 2001; Fisheries and Oceans Canada Habitat and Enhancement Branch 2001a, 1). The DFO recognized that in order to meet the goals of the collaboration they would implement a convener role to engage all interested parties. This research emphasizes the contributions of conveners by analyzing the processes and activities that they use to engage stakeholders and produce successful outcomes. Participants who are motivated to engage in collaborations expect to benefit from their involvement but it is recognized that conveners play an integral role in achieving collaborative goals and therefore, their contributions should be valued.