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Partnering hierarchy of needs

Mattias Jacobsson (Umeå School of Business and Economics, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden)
Timothy L. Wilson (Umeå School of Business and Economics, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 11 November 2014




First, the purpose of this paper is to describe and analyze the role of the components in the creation of a partnering way of working; second, to illustrate how the achievement of such collaborative state is dependent on a hierarchy of constructs.


The paper builds on a large case study of a successful Swedish partnering project. The case, studied through extensive interviews and observations, was process-oriented and analyzed using a theoretically driven thematic analysis.


It is shown that components exist on different levels and constitute different types of building blocks in striving toward a “true” collaborative climate. It is also shown that as the project progressed, even the non-partnering sub-projects were infused with a collaborative way of working. To this end it is suggested that there might be a certain stickiness related to this way of working. As trust, openness, and mutual understanding are constructs on an interpersonal level, it is on the interpersonal level partnering endeavors are won or lost.

Research limitations/implications

The paper provides a new conceptualization of the partnering components and also an understanding of how the components contribute to the creation of a collaborative climate. Because the research was built on a case study, one has the limitations common with that approach.

Practical implications

The importance of understanding that individual expectations are the basis for the action and learning that interact in a constant feedback loop, as the partnering pyramid is climbed.


This understanding should be of interest for both practitioners and academics working with partnering.



Jacobsson, M. and L. Wilson, T. (2014), "Partnering hierarchy of needs", Management Decision, Vol. 52 No. 10, pp. 1907-1927.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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