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The role of relationships in collaborative partnership success: Lessons from the Alaska Fourth R project

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Evaluation and Program Planning



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Collaborative partnerships are critical to achieving health equity. As such, it is important to understand what contributes to the success of such partnerships. This paper describes the Alaska Fourth R collaborative, a multisectoral group of agencies (including education, health and human services, the violence against women sector, the governor’s council on domestic violence, and an external evaluator) that successfully planned, implemented and evaluated a multi-focus health education program statewide. The purpose of this paper was to explore the ways in which seven pre-identified factors contributed to the successful achievement of the collaborative’s goals. This project was grounded in community-based research principles, and collectively, the group chose to use Roussos and Fawcett’s (2000) seven-factor model as the basis for the project. Using this model as a guide, semi-structured interviews were conducted with five leaders from the key organizations in the collaborative. In interviews, stakeholders described how each of the seven factors functioned in the Alaska collaborative to contribute to project success, with a particular focus on the critical role of relationships. Three specific relationship facets emerged as cross-cutting themes: flexibility, transparency, and prioritization. In sum, taking the time to build deep and authentic relationships, and then developing a shared vision and mission within the context of relationships that are flexible, transparent and prioritized, provided a strong foundation for future success in this collaborative.

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