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Machines of possibility

Everyone is talking about partnerships: environmental partnerships, social partnerships, public-private partnerships, partnerships between NGOs in Europe and the third world. How did partnerships come to emerge almost everywhere and at almost the same time? What is the inner logic of partnerships? And at what point does that logic begin to break down?

In a highly complex society, the conditions on which agreements are built are constantly changing, demanding, first and foremost, that parties agree to reach an agreement. Partnering is an answer to the growing differentiation and dynamism of the societies in which we live. While this answer holds great potential, however, it is also very fragile. It is the aim of this book to improve our understanding of the shifting ground on which agreements must be reached in today’s hyper-complex society.

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139 8 Research–practice–policy partnerships It serves us because we understand the system better and make better policy decisions, and it helps them because they get to showcase their skills and publish things and get more grants and stuff. So it is a mutually beneficial process. I think what has happened with all of the systems change over the last year or two years is that the relationship has gone from mutually beneficial to symbiotic and absolutely positively critical for doing the work that we do. And the level of reliance is just skyrocketed

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Introduction Partnerships are central to neighbourhood policing. As seen in the last chapter , problem-solving in particular cannot be effectively undertaken alone. It is reliant on the police working closely with partner agencies whose responsibility it is to respond to many of the issues that are raised with the police. Residents do not always distinguish between the specific responsibilities of the police as opposed to local councils, for example. In raising issues, they are stating the existence of a problem that is affecting their sense of safety in

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31 Articulating partnerships TWO articulating partnerships An initial path towards a diagnosis of the question of partnership was the concept of partnership as it is used by organisations. This chapter looks at the kind of communication that occurs around partnerships. How do partnerships become possible as the effect of particular semantic articulations of partnerships? Thus, we begin with a semantic analysis of partnerships. In this chapter, therefore, partnership is observed as a particular semantics. Partnerships represent a semantics, that is, a

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127 Partnerships as second‑order organisations EIGHT Partnerships as second-order organisations Up to this point partnerships have been studied in two different ways: as second-order contracts and as structural coupling. Subsequently we have explored what this means for the character of the partnership as structural coupling between different function systems, and concluded that there are significant differences in the potential of first- and second- order contracts to establish structural couplings. In this chapter we explore the relation between contract

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111 Partnerships as tentative structural coupling SEVEN Partnerships as tentative structural coupling Partnerships have been discussed as a form of contract. Here, the studies are taken one step further and there is a discussion of whether the displacement of the form has consequences for a contract as a structural coupling between function systems. The argument is that partnerships not only presuppose the coupling of a greater number of function systems than traditional contracts, they also change the way in which couplings are established. As mentioned

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PART X Partnership

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97 Partnerships as second‑order contracts SIX Partnerships as second-order contracts The concept of partnership is symptomatic of current new expectations that are put on contracts as form. As illustrated in the introduction to this book, a contract is put under pressure when it is set in the context of cross-sectoral collaboration, collectivity, agreements under developing conditions, project orientation and a focus on the future and visions. A contract is put under pressure when it is no longer perceived as functional in relation to conflict management

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Policy and practice

Over the past 10 years partnership working has become a central feature of public services. This book analyses experience of partnerships in different policy fields, identifying the theoretical and practical impediments to making partnership work and critically evaluating the advantages and disadvantages for those involved. Its broad coverage goes beyond the confines of statutory partnerships, addressing other important forms of collaboration between voluntary, private and statutory sectors and service users and community and minority groups.

Through a wide range of perspectives, Partnership working aims to integrate theory and practice across a number of policy areas. Using a variety of models, it:

highlights both positive and negative aspects of partnership working at political, cultural and technical levels;

shows how partnerships can empower people and groups through effective collaboration;

suggests some of the principles on which good practice should be based and the resources required;

addresses key issues of accountability, representation and social exclusion.

The book provides important reading for academics, policy makers, service providers and senior practitioners in community development and community safety, local government, housing, social services and health. It will also be a valuable resource for those working in voluntary organisations and students on professional courses.

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27 6 Genuine partnership Laurie Bryant On my own with my challenges I found it very difficult to survive and often fell down. When my wife joined me, we stood some chance but we still fell down, we did not get the right support, we did not get the right information and we found it difficult. But the magic for us began to happen when those providing my care (wherever they came from, health or social care, or the voluntary sector) stood alongside us and we began to have debate, and we shared views and ideas, and developed a partnership. We talked, we listened

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