A Guide to Collaborative Competencies

Effective governance is increasingly dependent on the use of cross-agency collaborative networks. Do you know if you are any good at running a collaborative network?

The non-profit Policy Consensus Initiative, in collaboration (how fitting!) with the 26-member University Network for Collaborative Governance, have developed a “Guide to Collaborative Competencies.” The guide draws “upon the collective knowledge and vast experience of the Network to provide an overview of the concrete skills needed to initiate and participate in collaborative approaches for public issues.” The guide also includes a self- assessment survey.

What are the key competencies needed?

Leadership and management competencies, such as:

  • Strengthen collaborative leadership styles and skills
  • Planning, organizing and managing for collaboration, such as collaborative problem-solving and conflict resolution management skills.

Process competencies, such as:

  • Communicating effectively, including cross-cultural presentations and persuasion
  • Working in teams and facilitating group decisionmaking
  • Managing conflict constructively in groups, and from the vantage point of different roles in a group

Analytical competencies, such as:

  • Applying analytical skills and strategic thinking by understanding political, legal, and regulatory contexts
  • Developing measures of progress and assessing and evaluating performance of the group

Knowledge management competencies, such as:

  • Integrating technical and scientific information for informed decisionmaking
  • Using information technology to communicate and operate in social networks

Professional competencies, such as:

  • Acting upon principles of fairness, transparency, and inclusiveness
  • Balancing personal, professional, and institutional loyalties with the group’s requirements for success

The full report includes mini-case studies, including hotlinks, which help bring the narrative of the various competencies to life, along with a brief self-assessment checklist.

The authors of the guide, Steve Smutko (Ruckelshaus Institute, the University of Wyoming) and Kirk Emerson (School of Public Administration and Policy, University of Arizona), say: “It is our hope that these skills become embedded as the approach that leaders use to take on difficult issues, interact with other levels of government, jurisdictions, and sectors, and carry out their governance duties.”

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