3.1 Challenges for champions

The academic literature recognises the importance of leadership in creating and maintaining collaboration across organisational boundaries (Crosby and Bryson, 2010; Huxham and Vangen, 2000; Vangen and Huxham, 2003). As we have suggested in previous weeks of this course, this leadership is not confined to those with management positions or titles – it is enacted by ‘champions’ at all levels who commit to the collaboration and engage others to do the same (Bryson et al., 2015).

Leading across organisational boundaries adds a layer of complexity to collaboration because each organisation has its own interests and purposes. Collaboration is possible because there is some overlap between those interests and purposes, but the distinctive identities of each organisation limit that overlap.

Activity 3 Shared purposes between champions

Timing: (20 minutes)

Watch our video discussion with Liz Gifford of Milton Keynes Council and John Cove from MK Dons Sports and Education Trust (SET).

Download this video clip.Video player: declvo_1_video_week6_interview_cove_gifford.mp4
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Now answer the following questions in your learning journal: [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

  • what purposes do the council and MK Dons SET share?
  • how might those purposes differ?

Make sure you title the post with the week number and the number of this activity, Week 6 Activity 3.


Liz and John champion the potential of collaboration because they each believe that more can be achieved for local people by working together. They recognise the importance of identifying where their organisational purposes overlap (expressed by Liz as serving the public), and the potential for bringing together their different organisational resources. However, they also recognise the different objectives and interests of their organisations and the inevitability of conflict. They each highlight the importance of building strong relationships with individuals from different organisations and sectors for the inter-organisational relationship to survive beyond such conflict.

3.2 Integrative leadership