Project Management in cross-sector social-oriented partnerships : A comparative study on the formation of partnerships in Romania, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Germany
Cross-sector social-oriented partnerships which address social or environmental challenges are increasing in practice and in the literature. Although this is expected to continue in the future, management responsibilities are largely unclear in this type of cross-sector collaboration. Project management was found to be a relevant area for investigation because cross-sector collaborations and projects have similar characteristics and projects are mentioned separately in the two literature fields.
By joining them in a novel theoretical framework and by collecting empirical data, this thesis aims to explore, describe and analyse the context and use of project management in the formation phase of cross-sector social-oriented partnerships. The study was undertaken in the belief that project management can be enriched by being researched in collaborative settings and that cross-sector collaborations are interesting to investigate from a managerial perspective. In fact, they offer great potential for knowledge creation and sharing which has been addressed mainly by management research.
This thesis study was structured according to three research objectives. Firstly, we analysed the role of contextual elements in cross-sector social-oriented partnerships by comparing cases in different European country contexts, which were selected based on established criteria. Secondly, we conceptualised the formation phase as it was found that the literature lacked an overarching understanding of this phase. Thirdly, we identified management responsibilities with a focus on project and knowledge management concepts in the formation of cross-sector social-oriented partnerships.
We investigated both partners in a multi-method qualitative study to get a holistic understanding of the research context. Primary data was collected in semi-structured interviews and supplemented with secondary data. The data was analysed on two levels which allowed for the triangulation of findings. Given the mainly inductive approach, template analysis was deployed allowing for flexibility to take account of emerging aspects.
The empirical data shows that project management is deployed differently in the formation of cross-sector social-oriented partnerships, depending on contextual elements and the intention with which they were formed. This is reflected in the interaction of partners, the level of trust between them, the way knowledge is shared and ultimately in the level of formality in which project management is deployed. In light of the generated findings, the extension of a collaboration continuum from the literature is proposed by integrating project management as a parameter. The findings and this proposition have implications on practitioners and for further research in the field.
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