Strategic compatibility, collaboration and collective impact for community change

Mary Ellen Brown, Tracey Rizzuto, Pallavi Singh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose: 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. Design/methodology/approach: 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. Findings: 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. Originality/value: 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)421-434
Number of pages14
JournalLeadership and Organization Development Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 10 2019


  • Collaboration
  • Collective impact
  • Community capitals
  • Community development
  • Social capital

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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