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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Collaborative advantage and collaborative inertia in a micro level study of interorganizational relationships (IORs) between Canadian sport and recreation organizations Alexander, Edward William


In 2002, the Canadian government released a new Sport Policy that has included 'enhanced interaction' as one of its four goals for sport organizations (Canadian Heritage, 2002). Research on interorganizational relationships (IORs) specific to the Canadian sport context has suggested that while broad potential benefits exist for organizations seeking to build linkages (Thibault & Harvey, 1997), organizations need to be aware of the challenges that are involved in managing IORs (Thibault, Frisby & Kikulis, 1999; Thibault, Kikulis, & Frisby, in press; Frisby, Thibault, & Kikulis, in press). The purpose of the study was to examine collaborative advantage and collaborative inertia in IORs between a sport organization and recreation organizations using Huxham and Vangen's (2000a) conceptual framework. Studying the IORs of a provincial sport organization (PSO) involves a stakeholder group that has not been the object of previous IOR research in Canadian sport, despite the suggestion that a more comprehensive understanding of different stakeholder perspectives was needed (Thibault & Harvey, 1997). Huxham and MacDonald's research found that both collaborative advantage (achieving a result that each individual organization could not achieve alone) and collaborative inertia (where IORs do not move forward, leading to frustration) are possible outcomes of relationships (1992). Huxham and Vangen's (2000a) seven factors causing collaborative inertia were used to understand the extent to which inertia was present in the cases studied, and how inertia in the IORs was being managed. In this qualitative study, data gathered from document analysis, information meetings and observations, and semi-structured interviews revealed that collaborative advantage was achieved in the two relationships between a PSO (Tennis BC) and two municipal recreation departments (Lake City and River City). The findings also suggest that the factors leading to collaborative inertia existed in different amounts in these IORs. The inertia present existed in two different forms. The first was related to Huxham and Vangen's factors that described collaborative inertia emerging from organizational sources, and the second was related to individual sources, such as difficulties in communicating, negotiating power and trust, and negotiating autonomy. Another significant finding suggested that divergent expectations that emerged at the end of the first year of the IOR present a threat for increased collaborative inertia in the future of these IORs if not adequately managed. The role of IORs is increasingly important to sport organizations in Canada (cf. Babiak, 2003; Glover, 1999a; 1999b; Thibault et al., 1999; in press; Frisby et al., in press). Researchers have overlooked understanding the challenges of managing these relationships until recently (Frisby, et al., in press). Findings from this study support the notion that factors emerge during collaborative actions between organizations that pose a threat to realizing the advantages identified during the formation of IORs. Continued research on the process of managing IORs is needed to better understand how inertia can be limited to ensure Canadian sport organizations maximize advantage through these relationships.

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