September 29, 2015
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in•ter•sec•tor |in,tersektor|
1. a space where government, business, and non-profit sectors share expertise, resources, and authority to address problems that cannot be solved by one sector alone



How a closer connection between practice and research can advance cross-sector collaboration

By Neil Britto, Executive Director, The Intersector Project


In a 2006 special issue of Public Administration Review, John Bryson, Barbara Crosby, and Melissa Stone released their seminal “The Design and Implementation of Cross-Sector Collaborations” — a work that has had significant influence both on our thinking at The Intersector Project and on scholarship on this topic generally. The authors provided a valuable update last month to commemorate the 75th anniversary of PAR’s publication, the crux of which is this — While progress has been made, there remains a need for significant advancement in both scholarship and practice of government, business, and non-profit collaboration in the United States.

Research activities that connect practitioners and scholars are an opportune way to simultaneously advance thinking and practice. Those actively working on collaborative projects have rich knowledge to offer to researchers and vice versa. So what can the industry of organizations seeking to advance cross-sector collaboration in the United States do to support communal knowledge on the topic? We offer three recommendations. Read more.

Visit our blog for more content on this topic, from last week's series on connecting cross-sector research to practitioners.


A research agenda for cross-sector collaboration in the United States



At The Intersector Project, one of our guiding values is to conduct and illuminate research that is valuable for practitioners. In this spirit, we’ve recently revisited our Research Agenda. The Agenda aims to advance thinking on and the practice of cross-sector collaboration and is informed by a review of recent literature on the topic and many conversations with practitioners and supporters of government, business, and non-profit collaboration in the United States. Read more.

What We're Reading and Following This Week

The Next Twenty Years in Local Government
The Alliance for Innovation set out one year ago to answer the question, "What are the next big things facing local government?" Its recently-released Next Big Things report highlights 44 trends in four categories
 resources, technology, demographics, and governance that are likely to impact how local government operates in the next generation. It aspires to equip practitioners with tools to be "a future ready community."

Why partnerships for forests are critical to achieving the SDGs
In this recent Huffington Post piece, Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 Director Marco Albani discusses the role of forests in meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals
and the key role of partnerships in that work. Albani writes: “Success at the scale and speed needed requires strong partnership and coordination between many stakeholders, including the public and private sectors and civil society. This is important because the problem must be addressed from both ends  from the top-down (government and corporate policy-setting) and from the bottom-up (project-based work with farmers and forest communities)." Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 is a public-private partnership “in which partners take voluntary actions to reduce the tropical deforestation associated with the sourcing of commodities such as palm oil, soy, beef, and paper and pulp.”

USC professor sparks dialogue on collaborative governance
USC Price School of Public Policy Professor Frank Zerunyan recently traveled to China’s Bao’an District, a community that has grown from 30,000 to 10.6 million in about 30 years, to discuss collaborative governance models with local leaders. Zerunyan “encouraged the audiences to think about how to create a model of collaborative governance specific to China and its three sectors.” He said: “'Today, based on the advent of technology and the Internet, it is not possible any more to govern through just governments, but through all three sectors: public, private, and non-profit.”

Online water research and collaboration ecosystem to launch at international water technology show
The Water Council and the innovationExchange will soon launch a new Global Water Port, 
a tool to “dramatically increase and improve cross sector water-related collaborative research.” The tool allows users from industry, government, the academy, and more to “gain industry insight, pitch projects, find and create solutions, monitor innovations, connect with global experts, and bring new ideas to life.” Said Water Council President and CEO Dean Amhaus, “The Port, with its ability to investigate unbounded and unstructured data utilizing powerful analytics and visualizations, will act as a platform for collaboration and innovation between all sectors, anytime, anywhere.”

White House recognizes Silicon Valley partnership for smart Super Bowl 50
The White House last week recognized a newly-formed collaboration in San Francisco “designed to ensure a smart, safe Super Bowl in February.” The collaboration, which includes the 49ers, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), City of Santa Clara Police Department, Arini Geographics, and Allied Telesis, provides law enforcement, NFL security, transit authority, and city leaders with co-access to real-time security data.

Download Our Route Fifty-ICMA E-Book: "What’s Next in Local Government?"
On our reading list this week is a new e-book from RouteFifty and ICMA, “What’s Next in Local Government?” The e-book is free and downloadable at the link above.

We now publish a weekly briefing on our blog each Friday to capture the new intersector collaborations surfacing across the United States and new, fascinating research and commentary emerging that provides insight into the intersector – the space where collaboration among government, business, and non-profit sectors enables leaders to share expertise, resources, and authority to address society’s most pressing problems.

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Case Study Corner:
Protecting Essential Infrastructure in Alaska

Alaska’s vast size, sparse population, and difficult terrain makes communication and transportation across the state a challenge. As a result of growing concerns over potentially hazardous disruptions to Alaska’s critical infrastructure, the State of Alaska, Department of Defense, and several private sector organizations set out to develop a central, cross-sector mechanism to gather, analyze, and disseminate critical infrastructure information during periods of vulnerability or threat. These efforts resulted in the formation of the Alaska Partnership for Infrastructure Protection (APIP) in 2004. Read more.

Upcoming Events


Washington Ideas
Hosted in partnership with the Aspen Institute, the Washington Ideas Forum hosts an all-star lineup of speakers across two days, covering the biggest newsmaking topics of the moment. Learn more and register.


Concordia Summit
On October 1 and 2, the Concordia Summit will convene the world’s preeminent thought leaders and decision makers to address the world’s most pressing global challenges by highlighting the potential that effective cross-sector collaboration can have in creating a more prosperous and sustainable future. Learn more.

Experience Engagement
Reflecting our growing interest in how the press covers cross-sector collaboration, we'll be following this Oct. 1-4 event, whose goal is to
generate actionable tools, illuminate innovative ideas and practices, and develop strategies for helping communities have the news, information, and connection they need to create thriving, healthy, inclusive communities. Learn more.

Resources for Practitioners

Created for practitioners from every sector, our Toolkit enables leaders to design and implement successful intersector solutions.


Our case studies profile leadership and tactics from successful collaborations in a variety of issue areas, including community revitalization, health and wellbeing, infrastructure, education, and environmental conservation. Our case library is one of the country’s leading libraries on U.S. cross-sector collaborations.

Copyright © 2015 The Intersector Project, All rights reserved.

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