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Strategic compatibility, collaboration and collective impact for community change

Mary Ellen Brown (School of Social Work, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA)
Tracey Rizzuto (School of Leadership and Human Resource Development, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA)
Pallavi Singh (Louisiana State University College of Agriculture, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 16 May 2019

Issue publication date: 26 June 2019




Communities are best able to tackle complex social problems when solutions are achieved collaboratively. Inter-organizational partnerships are strongest and provide the greatest benefit to communities when the relationships are mutually compatible. The purpose of this paper is to introduce an evidence-informed approach to identifying and forming mutually compatible collaborations among organizations responsible for promoting community well-being and carrying out community-level interventions.


A three-stage case study examines the utility of a novel measurement tool for identifying opportunities for strategic collaboration. The strategic compatibility assessment (SCA) was designed to identify inter-organizational collaborative capacities within and across sectors as a means to motivate collaborative behaviors that are essential to community change initiatives that advance the collective impact.


The findings of this paper indicate the SCA is an effective tool for fostering mutually beneficial collaborative partnerships. A high degree of content, face and practical validity was evidenced in two independent studies of SCA, and organizations using the SCA tool reported a moderate-to-high degree of collaborative behavior in a post-intervention assessment of SCA outcomes. These findings provide field-based support for the SCA to promote cross-sector collaboration for community-level interventions.


The SCA tool describes the degree of collaboration among organizations that operate within a neighborhood; identifies potential points of mutual compatibility within the network; and creates pathways for leveraging collaborative behavior to promote community capitals. The aim of this research is to examine the potential of the SCA tool to shift the non-profit sector climate away from one characterized by competition toward one rich with collaboration.



Brown, M.E., Rizzuto, T. and Singh, P. (2019), "Strategic compatibility, collaboration and collective impact for community change", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 40 No. 4, pp. 421-434.



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