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Examining the Dynamic, Relational Inter-Organizational Processes in a Public Sector Multi-Agency Partnership

By Latoya Jolivette Morris


This dissertation study was a qualitative case study about inter-organizational learning in public sector and non-profit multi-agency partnerships. The purpose of the study was to examine the dynamic, relational inter-organizational learning processes of the public sector organizations involved in a multi-agency partnership to address a specific social issue. Qualitative research data was collected from 11 participants actively engaged in a multi-agency, multi-state partnership formulated for the purpose of addressing human trafficking. The data was collected through semi-structured phone interviews. Although inter-organizational learning is a complex process, it allows organizations to collaborate with each other while observing and learning from each other. According to the literature, inter-organizational learning networks are essential to managing complex social issues, such as human trafficking, however, the research on inter-organizational learning is limited in scope. Therefore, more understanding of the inter-organizational learning processes is needed. This study contributes to the body of knowledge on inter-organizational learning processes in the public sector by providing more understanding of the learning processes of one specific multiagency partnership. The findings of this study identify necessary components of interorganizational learning processes and supports some of the themes found in the existing literature. More specifically, the data revealed that continuous communication, having relational opportunities for the team to engage and collaborate, and implementing ways to create and share knowledge are the three essential components of IOL in a multi-agency public-sector partnership. Based on the findings, a framework for understanding the dynamic, relational interorganizational learning processes in a public sector multi-agency partnership is also included in this study. The learning components, challenges and barriers to inter-organizational learning and collaboration, and the Dynamic, Relational IOL framework can potentially be applied to other problems of society, specifically multi-faceted, complex societal problems. Lastly, the study gives HRD practitioners and leaders pertinent information about the barriers and challenges that multi-agency partnerships endure. The findings provide a list of best practices and failures surrounding multi-agency partnership learning and collaboration as described by the HT work group participants

Topics: inter-organizational learning, multi-agency partnerships, human trafficking, prostitution, public sector, learning processes, dynamic learning, relational learning
Year: 2019
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