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Blog: What makes an effective sport partnership?

Haydn MorganAlliance of Sport Steering Group member Dr Haydn Morgan is Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise at the University of Gloucestershire. He and colleague Dr Colin Baker are planning a research project into partnerships – and they will need the help of the Alliance of Sport’s active network. 

In the sphere of sport and criminal justice we are constantly reminded of the value of forming effective partnerships. Combining each partner’s skills, experience and expertise, widening influence and increasing impact are among the many perceived benefits.

It was at last summer’s UK Sport for Development Network Conference here in Gloucester that Colin and I first thought about a project to analyse the ‘magic’ of partnerships.

There is limited academic literature out there which critically analyses partnerships, so we need to further develop our understanding as to how partnerships can operate most effectively.

There have been big pushes from the Government over the last 20 years for organisations to work in partnership. It has become an applied assumption that they work, yet we’ve all been involved in some that have proven more counter-productive than effective.

We therefore want to work towards an academic blueprint of what makes a successful one.

The Alliance of Sport is a perfect case study for this – a well-operated, multi-partner organisation with a high impact in the sport and criminal justice sector.

As a starting point to this research, we asked all attendees at the Alliance of Sport’s last Steering Group meeting questions on the following subjects:

  • The characteristics of successful partnership working
  • The benefits of working in partnership
  • The costs/drawbacks of working in partnerships
  • How partnership working in the Alliance of Sport could be improved

We followed this with an hour-long focus group to draw out more understanding from people’s answers – to pick out themes of what makes for successful collaborations, using people’s experiences from partnerships they have been involved in, to try to glean good practice and things to avoid.

The next stage is to throw this open to the Alliance of Sport’s 400-strong network and get YOUR understanding of what a successful partnership looks like. We are hoping before Easter 2019 to send out a survey and your answers will help us analyse this important under-research area of study.

Look out for the survey in the Alliance of Sport newsletter in the next couple of months!

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