2.5 The benefits of working in partnership
Partnership working is based on an assumption that ‘there are situations in which working alone is not sufficient to achieve the desired ends’ (Huxham, 1996, p. 3). We have already touched on some of the benefits that can come from working in partnership. We will now explore in a little more detail the benefits for organisations, for practitioners and for young people.
Activity 5: Thinking about the benefits of working together
Think about a partnership initiative that you have been involved in or are familiar with. In a table like Table 2 below, make notes in the right-hand column about the extent to which the potential benefits listed in the left-hand columns were achieved.
Table 2: Potential benefits of partnership
|Potential benefit||Was it achieved?|
|A spirit of competition was replaced by a spirit of cooperation.|
|It released synergy and provided ‘added value’ – achieving more than either party could have achieved alone or working separately.|
|It involved exchanging information and ideas, leading to improved decision making. It also helped to develop the knowledge and skills of different partners.|
|It allowed for efficient use of resources.|
|It provided a more holistic approach – partners were more able to provide support for the ‘whole young person’ rather than individual services addressing needs separately.|
|It helped to ‘build capacity’ in the community by involving young people in partnership decision making.|
Finally, what other benefits do you think there might be from working with other people rather than on your own?
Some partnerships are inevitably more successful than others. However, it is useful to recognise the benefits that do come from working with others, and perhaps reviewing your successes will have reminded you of what you have achieved.
In thinking about the other benefits of partnership working, you may also have identified the potential financial incentives to working in partnership with other organisations. You might have found that it helped you to bid for and to secure joint funding – demonstrating an ability to work in partnership is often one of the criteria for the allocation of funding.
At its best, partnership working can provide practitioners with new opportunities for learning, as they develop their understanding of the way in which different agencies and professionals work, the skills that each can offer and the different perspectives that they bring. It is not just about sharing knowledge and experience, but also about bouncing ideas off each other, which can help to spark new ideas.
In order to realise these benefits, though, Chauhan (2007) reminds us that:
… such an approach requires the strengths of individual agencies to be drawn upon, an expectation that there will be mutual respect among key partners and an acknowledgement that what is at stake is local democracy not just the financial interests of individual organisations.
We have spent some time examining the benefits that come from working in partnership. We will now look at some of the challenges and dilemmas it can present.