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Evaluating Collaboration

Utilizing Collaboration Theory to Evaluate Strategic Alliances)7

What is collaboration and how do we assess it?

For many initiatives, the questions of relevance to the program’s evaluation are:

1. How do we determine if partnerships have been strengthened or if new linkages have been formed as a result of this strategic alliance?

2. How do we describe a “community-wide infrastructure” and how can we measure and/or characterize its development over time?

3. What does it mean to “link” agencies?

4. Is our strategic alliance becoming increasingly seamless or collaborative over time?

5. What level or breadth of collaboration is needed to achieve particular outcomes?

6. What is the point at which efforts to increase collaboration are simply a waste of resources, without increasing desired outcomes?

A Collaboration Checklist8

Each of the following factors influences the collaborative process. After reading a brief description for each of the areas place an X in the box (see Figure 1) that best reflects your opinion of how your collaboration is functioning in each of the areas using the following scale: 1 = Strongly Disagree, 2 Disagree, 3 = Neither Agree or Disagree, 4 = Agree, and 5 = Strongly Agree.

Each of the factors are identified and defined:


Communication - the collaboration has open and clear communication. There is an established process for communication between meetings;


Sustainability - the collaboration has a plan for sustaining membership and resources. This involves membership guidelines relating to terms of office and replacement of members;


Research and Evaluation - the collaboration has conducted a needs assessment or has obtained information to establish its goals and the collaboration continues to collect data to measure goal achievement;


Political Climate - the history and environment surrounding power and decision making is positive. Political climate may be within the community as a whole, systems within the community or networks of people;


Resources - the collaboration has access to needed resources. Resources refer to four types of capital: environmental, in-kind, financial, and human;

7 R.Gajda  (2004). Utilizing Collaboration Theory to Evaluate Strategic Alliances. American Journal of Evaluation,  25, (1),   65–77.

8 Borden, L. M. & Perkins, D.F. (April 1999) Assessing Your Collaboration: A Self Evaluation Tool. Journal of Extension, 37 (2)

Collab & Coord notes for TA&D  10-15-086

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