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"Shotgun partnership": a Systems-Centered™ case study analysis

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Purpose ‐ This case study aims to explore the relationship between identity and locality in two groups of young people from different environments working with a community artist to explore representations and perceptions about their environment, culminating in an exchange visit. The paper seeks to explore the challenges and complexities of partnership working in community regeneration in order to move beyond prevalent idealised views of partnership as a policy tool. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The multi-method qualitative evaluation included filming, direct observations of project sessions and interviews with key professionals. A systems analysis was then conducted using the Systems-Centered® Training framework. Findings ‐ The extent to which multi-agency partnerships in community regeneration are likely to be effective and sustainable is related to the development of the partnership systems. Shared goals, clear roles and a common understanding of the context of the collaborative work are critical for developing multi-agency systems. Practical implications ‐ The paper highlights the complex issues that need to be addressed when working with young people on issues of identity and territory. It also presents a systems viewpoint on partnership that has wider policy and practice implications for multi-agency partnerships. Originality/value ‐ Drawing on a systems-centered perspective, the paper expands the conceptual understanding of multi-agency partnerships to seeing such partnerships as dynamic living human systems, which can then be understood in terms of the variables that affect their functioning and effectiveness. This provides a tool for analysis and reflection on partnership that is of value to both academics/researchers and managers/practitioners.
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Keywords: Community development; England; Partnership; Sustainable development; Systems analysis; Youth

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2010

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