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Hit or myth? stories of collaborative success

Huxham, Chris and Hibbert, Paul (2008) Hit or myth? stories of collaborative success. In: Collaborative governance : a new era of public policy in Australia? ANZSOG . University Printing Services, ANU, Australia, pp. 45-50. ISBN 978-1-9215-3640-3

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Partnering is notoriously difficult; success rates as low as 20 per cent are often quoted. So, is success achievable or are the benefits to be gained from partnering just a myth? What does 'success' mean in partnerships, alliances and other collaborative ventures? The answer might not be as straightforward as you expect. We talked to partnership managers and their colleagues about the collaborations that they were pleased with. Naturally, they were concerned to tell us that they had achieved the objectives that they and their partners had jointly agreed to pursue. Their stories also told of other types of achievement; we identified five main categories of these. All seem to be important and need to be recognised as elements of positive collaborative progress. We also found, however, that success was always qualified. Getting some sort of positive outcome was never completely straightforward. We think it is essential that people have a realistic idea of the costs and compromises necessary when seeking success in partnerships, so these caveats need to be recognised, too. Let us start, however, with the positive and review the five categories of achievement that we found in stories of success.