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

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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

Article Details

Research articles (Refereed)
Author Biographies

Cheryl A. Hyde, Temple University

Associate Professor School of Social Work College of Health Professions and Social Work

Karen Hopkins, University of Maryland, Baltimore

Associate Professor School of Social Work

Megan Meyer, University of Maryland, Baltimore

Associate Professor School of Social Work