Pre-capacity building in loosely-coupled collaborations: Setting the stage for future initiatives

Cheryl A. Hyde, Karen Hopkins, Megan Meyer


This article examines the benefits and limitations of ‘loosely-coupled’ research collaborations between university faculty and 12 grassroots community-based organisations (CBOs). The authors assert that community-based research projects that develop the knowledge base within CBOs, and can be described as ‘pre-capacity building’ work, can be an important stepping stone to the subsequent development of more formal and strategic capacity-building partnership ventures. However, such projects must be approached carefully with a clear understanding of the ‘threshold dimensions’ that must be met before proceeding with any collaboration. Written as a cautionary tale, the authors identify some of the problems that arise when the threshold stage is poorly executed, and more generally speak to the dangers of initiating even loosely-coupled collaborations in the absence of an explicit and well-established campus commitment to and support for community engagement and partnerships.

Keywords: Community capacity-building, community-university partnerships, community research, collaboration

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