Collective Identity in Cross Sector Partnerships: A Research Brief

Collective Identity in Cross Sector Partnerships: A Research Brief

23 December 2013

Cross sector partnerships (CSPs) face the challenge of aligning diverse partners towards the same goal of social value co-creation, and in fact might conduce to conflict and inefficient use of resources. Through a study of a Dutch-Colombian partnership for the development of coffee growing families in the South Eastern regions of Colombia, the research looks into the concept of collective identity as a mechanism to help partnerships overcome such challenge.

CSPs, understood as collaborations between private, public and civil society sectors with the purpose of addressing society-wide issues, are a development mechanism whose effectiveness and impact is very much dependent on the proper management of highly diverse resources, interests, goals and objectives. For highly diverse organisations, the inability to share interests and attributes can hamper success in addressing the meta-objective of collaborative value creation. It is here that a collective identity can contribute to addressing this challenge by binding partners together around a number of shared and established attributes.

Collective identity is reflected in how partners talk about themselves as a partnership and their activities. Emerging as a property of the partnership as an entity in itself, collective identity then becomes relevant because of its ability to bring together diverse partners and create an attachment to common goals, procedures and objectives.

An empirical exploration of the Colombia-based cross sector partnership focused on the study of narratives communicated by partners about their relational interactions in the partnership process. The final objective was to propose a model depicting the process of collective identity formation as a mechanism for partnership alignment. Looking at collective identity formation from this process perspective, allows breaking down a seemingly abstract concept into identifiable stages. Partners can now evaluate which actionable steps can be taken to aid the transition between these stages.

Keywords: collective identity, partnerships, sustainable development, alignment, Colombia

Payandeh, N. (2013). Collective Identity in Cross Sector Partnerships: A Research Brief, Partnerships Resource Centre: Rotterdam