How does your coalition perceive and manage conflict? Implications for Sustaining Community Collaboration

April/May 2015 Issue

Research Into Action, RIA for short, helps coalitions bridge the gap between research and practice in the coalition field by keeping coalitions current on research findings relevant to their work. In addition, this series provides actionable steps for coalitions to incorporate the knowledge gained into community action.

This issue is based on an article titled The role of conflict identification and management in sustaining community collaboration: Report on a four-year exploratory study by Dr. Andrea Blanch that appeared in the 2015 issue of Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research.

Key Findings:

  • How a coalition manages and addresses conflict has more of an influence on staff and member perceptions about the impact of conflict on the organization (either positively or negatively) than the actual amount of conflict that occurs.  
  • Coalitions that view conflict as a normal, necessary, and even creative aspect of the collaboration process are more likely to sustain their stakeholder partnerships beyond funding than coalitions that view conflict as destructive or something to avoid.
  • Partnership sustainability may be at risk when coalition staff and members are not provided with clear procedures for conflict management that they feel confident about putting into action.
  • Coalitions are more likely to sustain good relations with partners when conflict is framed as a symptom of an organization’s structural issues rather than as an issue with one or more individuals or groups (e.g. personalities and motivations).