David Wagstaff, Key Associate
Leadership Foundation for Higher Education
Review Paper, October 2013
Since 2005 the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education has commissioned a number of articles and research pieces on the theme of partnership and collaboration. Now is an appropriate time to take stock of those publications, identify themes and trends and to set the findings in a wider discourse about partnership and collaboration.
The findings are grouped into three main areas: the drivers and context for partnership, the experience of being in partnership and the skills and competences required to effect successful partnership arrangements.
There are a number of lessons that can be learned and guidelines which can be followed but it is also apparent that success in partnerships is frequently based on individual relationships and intangible elements such as trust and power.
The available literature focuses principally on partnerships that are successful although it does draw attention to tensions and difficulties. However data about why partnering relationships have failed or are suboptimal tends to be anecdotal and informal and more information in this area would clearly add to the richness of the picture.
The number and nature of partnerships in higher education is evolving rapidly and the field lends itself to further investigation both in terms of how institutions manage their range of partnerships and how individuals develop the skills and competences to operate in complex and at times paradoxical contexts.
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