Date of Award

2005

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Department

Social Work

Supervisor

Bill Lee

Language

English

Abstract

Throughout the public, private, and non-profit sectors, there is increasing experimentation with the use of partnerships, alliances, and networks to design and deliver social programs (Brinkerhoff, 2002). In addition government and private funding initiatives are promoting coalitions, collaborations and other inter-organizational approaches to address complex community, social services and health issues (Mizrahi, 2001). Community partnerships can be developed out of natural collaboration and shared values where there is a general interest in improving services for the community, individuals, families, youth and children. More recently however, community partnership literature has focused attention towards the pressures to partner that are resulting from economic and political restructuring policies. Along with this the social service sector has revealed that the demand to partner from the government can cause un-welcomed structural and organizational pressures while impacting upon the agency's ability to meet their core mission (George, Moffat, McGrath and Lee, 2003). The development of partnerships as community-based alternatives in social programming has raised both hopeful possibilities for and illusions of social change, but this does not come without its struggles. This qualitative case study explores the context of these partnerships, the barriers to community-based partnerships and the impact of government restructuring initiatives on community-based partnerships through a look at one community. Utilizing interviews of five key informants, this case study reveals several struggles to develop relationships between the organizations and ministries set out to meet the needs of children and families in their community. The stories of these struggles to partner have revealed three emergent themes. Firstly, Government Restructuring-The Rules Keep Changing: which looks at the impact of government changes to resources and jurisdiction during Alberta's regionalization process. The second theme, Bureaucratic Imperatives, involves looking at the impact of forced formalization upon these partnerships. Finally the theme of Goal Displacement: which, looks at the struggles to manage the demands to partner and their agency core missions. This exploratory study will conclude that, despite the informant optimism in forced partnerships, outside influences and resources have dominated and overwhelmed their local initiatives and informal partnerships creating barriers to partnership work, which, has seemingly, resulted in a dependency upon government endorsed partnership initiatives.

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