Sustaining collaborative partnerships in an ICT-based community service organisation to empower children in orphanages: perspectives from multiple stakeholders
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 11:11 authored by Suhaini Muda
This thesis aims to discover, from the perspective of multiple stakeholders, how collaborative partnership survives over the long-term. This aim is addressed through a case study of a community service organisation focussing on ICT use by orphanage communities in the developing country of Malaysia. This case study will identify factors that influence the development and sustainability of collaborative partnerships. A wide-ranging literature exists around collaborative partnerships with multiple stakeholders, especially between profit making organisations and government. While research on collaborative partnerships between non-profit organisations is emerging, this work is most established in developed countries such as the USA and UK, with little written about community based service organisations outside Europe and the US. This thesis addresses this gap. Beginning as a community group initiative in April 1998 and later developing into non-profit service organisation, CyberCare, the organisation which is the focus of this case study, worked collaboratively towards a vision of bridging the digital divide and improving the lives of the children in orphanages. Many collaborative partnerships begin as small scale and grow progressively larger. In contrast, this partnership rapidly became a nationwide e-community project with strong support from government and major corporations. Under the umbrella of a non-profit service organisation group, CyberCare has linked children in 90 orphanages throughout the country online and came to be perceived as one of the successful e-community projects in the country. However, in the process, this collaboration faced challenges that required it to reduce scale and find ways to survive. These decisions included becoming independent, in 2009, from a network of well-established service organisations. This study identifies drivers of change in collaborative partnerships, and maps stakeholders’ perspectives on challenges across collaborative partnership. A qualitative case study design is used in this research, using the methods of document review, participant observation of two programmes, and interviews with 58 participants from seven stakeholder groups: the community service organisation; government; corporations; non-governmental organisations (NGOs); orphanage administrators; volunteers; and children. The data collected were analysed and triangulated with the aid of NVIVO, qualitative analysis software. While the existing literature on collaborative partnerships stresses the importance of a shared vision at the foundation of a project, this research suggests that sustainable partnerships may be grounded on objectives shared by pairs of partners, rather than agreement across all partnerships. Equally, the case study suggests that pragmatic rather than strategic motives are drivers for the establishment of and direction of partnerships. Much of the literature also studies collaboration from a managerial perspective which deals specifically with governance issues rather than a whole of community perspective which considers the views of multiple stakeholders. The findings of this thesis provide a rich evidence base reflecting the challenges and benefits of collaborative partnership and divergent understandings of key concepts including partnership, sustainability, achievement, and volunteering. Financial, human resources, and time management emerge as the crucial challenges in sustaining the community efforts, leading to tensions between community organisations and business or government funders. This thesis also makes a contribution to academic accounts of the role of information technology in community development, by tracing the changing understandings within the collaborative partnership of the links between personal development, ICT skills, and community service. The evolution of this collaborative partnership emphasises the possibility of transformation within such relationships, and suggests mechanisms for sustaining partnerships during such transformations.