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Inter-Organizational Relationships of Health Partnerships: Characteristics of the Fulton County SPARC Program

Author: BRENDA A. SULLIVAN
Published in JHHSA, Vol. 35 No. 1

Local governments have long used partnerships and collaborations with the nonprofit and private sectors to improve services, support innovation, and save cost. Nowhere is this more evident than in the public health and human services sectors. This case study follows up on an earlier report on the attributes of a collaborative public/ private-nonprofit health partnership; Fulton County, Georgia’s Sickness Prevention Achieved Through Regional Collaboration program, (SPARC). Fulton County has been able to sustain its SPARC partnership despite the demise of similar efforts within the region. This study examines the characteristics of the Fulton County SPARC partnership that may have contributed to its endurance. A series of interviews and surveys were administered to Fulton County SPARC partners in 2009 and 2011 to capture operational characteristics of the partnership and the degree to which partners interacted among themselves. Results indicate that despite changes thought to strengthen the partnership, the developmental stages of partnerships and collaborations are shown to be non-linear; therefore, movement from one stage to the other is not guaranteed thus warranting leaders’ regular attention to both individual and organizational commitment to collaboration dynamics.

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