Partnership Working: Theory and Practice


Overall, my learning activities during this meeting and the entire module helped me get a deeper insight into the concept of partnership and its relevance to the work of different public service organizations. Overall, I would like to discuss the meeting during which students were prompted to act as a team including different professionals. In particular, learners were encouraged to focus on the needs of a family requiring social and health care.

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Moreover, it was necessary to develop strategies for integrating different services that should be offered to these people. This meeting has demonstrated to me that team working requires communicative skills and the ability to coordinate the activities of several stakeholders. I was able to provide some recommendations that could improve decision-making within a multi-professional agency. In my opinion, it was necessary to minimize the risk of groupthink in the team. So, employees should have an opportunity to express their ideas during group meetings and private discussions. Additionally, I suggested how team members could schedule their activities. In my opinion, such experiences enable a person to understand the challenges faced by medical or social workers.

Moreover, learners identified the principles according to which the new team had to work. For instance, one can mention the avoidance of technical jargon, the identification of clear objectives, and respect. It seems that such discussions prompt students to look at partnership working from different perspectives. Finally, this meeting helped me understand how social or medical workers should communicate with people who rely on their services.

Certainly, practitioners may face greater challenges in real life. For instance, they can be pressed for time. Additionally, they may work in communities affected by crime and drug abuse. However, I believe that such interactions can illustrate the requirements that will be set for students.

In turn, this module increased my awareness about the principles of partnership working and their application to the delivery of public services. There are several issues that I would like to mention. In particular, the teacher encouraged learners to study the reasons why some partnerships may not work effectively. For instance, they may fail to eliminate bureaucratic barriers that impair the cooperation between two agencies. This is one of the reasons why such agencies do not achieve any successful outcomes. I believe that future professionals should be aware of these pitfalls; otherwise, they will not improve any of the existing practices.

Furthermore, this module has been helpful because I learned about different cases illustrating how partnerships can be formed. In my view, these examples can be used as guidelines for changing the work of different service organizations. I will apply this knowledge in my professional activities. For instance, I will attach importance to information sharing between workers representing various service agencies. Additionally, I will emphasize the need for setting specific and measurable goals because they are important for creating partnerships and making changes if they are necessary. These strategies can be important for improving the experiences of people who require the assistance of medical or social workers.

Partnership Working is Easier in Theory than in Practice


Partnerships between public organizations are critical for improving the services that these agencies provide to people. Moreover, they are necessary for making more efficient use of available resources. However, it is important to remember that the formation of partnerships can be hindered by various obstacles. These barriers can be related to the culture of organizations, their structure, policies, individual responses of separate employees, and so forth.

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Furthermore, there are several prerequisites for the successful cooperation of professionals who have different skills. In particular, much depends on the ability of policy-makers to promote trust and respect among employees representing various agencies. Additionally, leaders should pay attention to goal-setting because this task is important for fostering cooperation. Apart from that, they must concentrate on the experiences of users and their involvement in decision-making. Overall, the discussion of this issue is important for understanding how public service agencies can increase the efficiency of their work.

The relevance of partnerships to the practice of public service organizations

Policy-makers have long stressed the need to integrate the work of various public service organizations; for example, it is possible to refer to those agencies that represent social and health care. In turn, the concept of partnership has played an important role. In this case, this notion can be defined as “a shared commitment, where all partners have a right and an obligation to participate and will be affected equally by the benefits and disadvantages arising from the partnership

” (Crawford 2011, p. 16). There are several elements of partnerships that can be important for healthcare providers and social workers. In particular, one should speak about such an element as the sharing of information. This component is critical for the identification of those people who may require immediate interventions of social or medical workers. For instance, these interventions can be critical for children living in families affected by poverty or crime.

In many cases, they do not have adequate access to healthcare. Furthermore, their social development can be endangered due to such threats as domestic violence or alcoholism of parents. Therefore, different professionals need to exchange information about such families to protect children from various risks. This example is important for illustrating the benefits of partnerships between various public agencies.

Another important component of the partnership is the integrated delivery of services. This component is important for assisting people whose lives are affected by various hardships. There are many groups of people who may need social and health care at the same time. In turn, it is critical to combine the skills of different professionals. This argument is partly applicable to old people. These individuals can be affected by social isolation and various illnesses.

They have to rely on the assistance of different public service organizations. Furthermore, it is possible to mention those individuals who cannot overcome drug addiction and alcohol abuse. They cannot easily reintegrate into society, while their health is also at risk. One can also refer to the needs of immigrants who can struggle with illnesses and linguistic or cultural barriers. In many cases, these individuals require the assistance of social workers and healthcare professionals. So, integrated delivery of services is important for assisting people who are more exposed to different risks. In contrast, the lack of cooperation can only aggravate various social problems such as rising crime rates and increased mortality in certain neighborhoods.

These issues have been discussed because they indicate that partnership is necessary for improving the practices of many governmental agencies. One should bear in mind that individuals can be influenced by various difficulties that can be attributed to unemployment, internal conflicts within a family, health issues, and so forth (Ovretveit 1997). These problems can be addressed or mitigated by inter-professional teams (Barrett, Sellman, & Thomas, 2005). These teams can better evaluate the needs of individuals or groups.

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The forces that impact partnership working

Positive influences

Scholars identify several aspects that facilitate cooperation between various agencies. In particular, they note that public service organizations are more likely to cooperate efficiently if there are clear accountability arrangements (Dowling, Glendinning, & Powell 2004, p. 313). In other words, the managers of these institutions should identify the duties of every participant; otherwise, employees may try to shift responsibility onto one another.

Furthermore, such workers are more likely to enter into conflicts with one another (Crawford 2011). Apart from that, scholars focus on the role of leaders who need to inspire workers and encourage them to attain common goals. Furthermore, they should understand the need for partnership working and the objectives that this cooperation should achieve. Managers should demonstrate that this approach can bring tangible benefits. For instance, one can mention the better provision of services to people with low-income levels. This explanation is critical making employees more engaged. If these issues are not addressed, the cooperation may not be effective.

There is another aspect that is critical for a good partnership. In particular, the managers of public organizations should identify the criteria according to which partnerships should be assessed. They need to focus on the outcomes of this cooperation. For instance, one can speak about the improvement in the quality of services, equitability of service distribution, time-efficiency, reduction of costs, and satisfaction of employees (Dowling, Glendinning, & Powell 2004, p. 314).

In other words, the presence of specific milestones is important for success. It is necessary to monitor the performance of these people and make corrections if they are necessary. Additionally, one should reward those workers who help public agencies attain new goals. This motivation is necessary for improving the performance of employees. They will be more willing to embrace new practices.

If the managers of organizations disregard these issues, their partnership will not be successful. More likely, employees will believe that agencies should work separately. Additionally, they will try to follow the previous workplace procedures that are more convenient or at least habitual to them. Thus, managers should pay more attention to the design of partnerships, especially such aspects as allocation of duties, performance criteria, shared goals as well as vision. Overall, these factors are vital for improving the services offered to clients. So, leaders must make sure that these prerequisites are present.

The key factors that adversely affect partnerships

However, it is important to examine to discuss those barriers that can undermine partnerships. To some degree, these obstacles are inherent to nature organizations. In particular, one should mention that employees of various public service agencies tend to resist changes such as new performance standards or changing duties (Drechsler 2013, p. 5). It is one of the difficulties that change managers should overcome.

As a rule, employees tend to act in this way due to role ambiguity or lack of clear expectations. This behavior can be observed when healthcare professionals and social workers form teams. Very often, these individuals have different criteria for success. So, they need to know what kind of improvements should be brought into the lives of separate individuals, families, and the entire community. In turn, managers should discuss every concern that employees may have.

For instance, they need to introduce specific guidelines for employees. The impact of organizational and individual resistance can be mitigated if managers identify accountability procedures and set performance criteria for workers. Moreover, leaders of such organizations should keep in mind that this response to changes is not caused by the lack of professionalism or people’s unwillingness to improve their performance. More likely, this behavior can be explained by the flaws of new policies or poor communication.

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There is another factor that should be considered. In particular, public service organizations may differ in terms of such criteria as structure and culture. For example, governmental agencies can be more or less bureaucratic. More bureaucratic agencies are less willing to share information with their partners. Moreover, their decision-making is usually very slow. Such institutions are less likely to participate in partnership working.

Thus, it is vital to design policies that can improve the exchange of information between and within public service agencies. Additionally, managers should delegate more authority to employees because, in this way, they can highlight the role of trust in the new team. So, before forming a partnership, the managers of service agencies should focus on the design of multidisciplinary teams. Much attention should be paid to such details as communication between team members and the situations when they are allowed to take independent decisions.

These steps are important for ensuring that organizational inefficiencies do not impair the work of employees. The main problem is that public service agencies can create even more complex bureaucratic mechanisms when trying to promote partnership working. It is one of the main pitfalls that should be avoided by leaders because this problem can considerably devalue this cooperation.

Furthermore, partnership working can be hindered by the differences in the leadership styles adopted in public service organizations. One should keep in mind that some leaders tend to encourage the initiatives of workers. Furthermore, they avoid excessive supervision. In contrast, other leaders tend to be autocratic; in other words, they believe that workers should simply follow their instructions. Moreover, they monitor almost every step made employees who can be afraid of taking independent initiatives. When such agencies form a partnership, their workers may struggle with several problems such as workplace conflicts, lack of coordination, and so forth.

Additionally, some employees may feel dissatisfied with the leadership styles adopted by some managers. They are less likely to work effectively; so, the task of managers is to use a leadership style that can foster cooperation between participants. In many cases, the authoritative style of leadership is less efficient.

There are important barriers that policy-makers should consider. In particular, the representatives of public service agencies can have stereotypical perceptions of one another (Pietroni 1991). For instance, social workers may believe that some healthcare professionals are too arrogant. In turn, healthcare providers believe that social workers are self-opinionated (Pietroni 1991). To some degree, these perceptions can be explained by the lack of cooperation between these people.

These stereotypes can manifest themselves when two agencies cooperate. For instance, they can lead to the formation of cliques in multidisciplinary agencies. The representatives of such cliques can be unwilling to work with one another. Thus, it is important to foster people’s respect for one another. This task can be important for improving the teamwork of different employees who may follow different professional rules.

Additionally, researchers note that the employees may have different attitudes towards partnerships and teams. For instance, healthcare professionals are more accustomed to working solitarily, while social workers prefer to work in teams (Peck, Towell & Gulliver, 2001, p. 324). Apart from that, nurses and social workers often disagree about the selection of policies that should be adopted by multidisciplinary teams. In turn, leaders should find ways of resolving such conflicts and bridging the gap between two cultures. As it has been said before, the main task is to highlight the reasons why partnership working is important.

These examples are necessary for showing that several obstacles can prevent public service agencies from forming partnerships. Nevertheless, these problems can be addressed if leaders have extensive expertise in such areas as organizational design, motivation, and change management. This expertise will be important for developing new policies.

The role of professional codes

One should consider other factors that significantly impair the partnership between public service agencies. In particular, these institutions can be driven by different policies. For instance, healthcare institutions focus primarily on the welfare of individuals. They pay attention to those factors that can pose a threat to the health of a person. In contrast, social workers attach more importance to economic factors that impact the experiences of individuals or groups (Glasby & Dickinson, 2014).

In this case, one can speak about such issues as the level of crime in the community, availability of drugs or alcohol, the functioning of educational institutions, the existence of various support groups, and so forth. Therefore, these professionals interact with service users in different ways. For instance, medical workers want to know about healthcare interventions that should be implemented.

In turn, social workers try to show how vulnerable individuals can be empowered. For instance, they may need to help those women who are the victims of spousal abuse. Apart from that, one should keep in mind that agencies may adopt different ethical standards. For instance, nurses and physicians attach much importance to such issues as informed consent of individuals. In turn, this notion is less important for social workers.

This example is important for showing that it is necessary to reconcile the professional codes of different public organizations. This task is important for helping service users. These people should be able to interact with the representatives of various public agencies. These stakeholders can identify factors that can impact their social welfare as well as health. The information that they provide is necessary for developing better policies (Pratten 2003). Moreover, service users can identify deficiencies in the work of public service agencies.

Partnerships between agencies can also be affected by some decisions of policy-makers. For example, governmental officials tend to reduce the costs spent on social care, while the budget of healthcare organizations has not been cut (Glasby & Dickinson, 2014). These discrepancies in the budget can increase the divide between various agencies (Glasby & Dickinson, 2014). For instance, social workers may believe that their professional activities are underappreciated. It is one of the issues that should be taken into account.

Thus, this cooperation is associated with many problems that should be anticipated by the leaders of service organizations. More importantly, in some cases, some of the adverse factors cannot be controlled by the management. Nevertheless, these problems can be mitigated with the help of effective organizational design. It is the main detail that can be identified.


This discussion shows that multi-professional cooperation can considerably improve the work of public service agencies. This cooperation is critical for more efficient use of financial resources and better awareness about the problems influencing the lives of individuals and communities. Moreover, this cooperation is important for responding to the problems promptly. However, the managers of public organizations should remember that several factors can produce negative impacts. In particular, they need to concentrate on such aspects as power struggles in organizations, the failure to delegate authority, vague accountability standards, and goals.

Moreover, one should not overlook such issues as resistance to change and differences in the culture of separate agencies. In many cases, different professional codes slow down the formation of partnerships. However, managers can overcome these problems, if they remove barriers that make people unwilling to work in teams. Admittedly, several factors are not dependent on managers; for instance, one can mention stereotypes accepted by medical or social workers. However, the impact of these risks can be reduced with the help of effective change management techniques.


Barrett, G, Sellman, D, & Thomas, J 2005, Interprofessional Working in Health and Social Care, Palgrave, Basingstoke.

Crawford, K 2011, Interprofessional Collaboration in Social Work Practice, Sage, New York.

Dowling, B, Glendinning, C & Powell, M 2004, ‘Conceptualising successful partnerships’, Health and Social Care in the Community, vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 309-317.

Drechsler, A 2013, Employee Resistance, GRIN Verlag, New York.

Glasby, J & Dickinson, 2014, Partnership working in health and social care: What is integrated care and how can we deliver it?, Policy Press, London.

Ovretveit, J 1997, Interprofessional Working for Health and Social Care, Macmillan, Lodnon.

Peck, E, Towell, D & Gulliver, P 2001, ‘The meanings of ‘culture’ in health and social care: a case study of the combined Trust in Somerset’, Journal of Interprofessional Care, vol. 15, no. 4, pp. 319-327.

Pietroni, P 1991, ‘Stereotypes or archetypes? A study of perceptions amongst health care students’, Journal of Social Work Practice, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. :61–69.

Pratten, B 2003, Having your say about local health services: Patient and Public Involvement, Stationary Committee, London.

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