CommonBond: A Case Study in Collaboration

Dawn Minette 

Collaboration and service sharing among nonprofit organizations is not a new idea. However in difficult economic times its popularity grows among funders, organizations, and academics, as a method for combating resource scarcity. This popularity is in part because as Gale notes “collaboration equals efficiency in the public eye” (p.1).   Despite its growing popularity and intuitive appeal, very little is actually known about whether collaborations are an effective alternative to competition in reducing costs. This is particularly true of small organizations with limited staff and time, and strict guidelines for the use of grant monies. The increased interest in collaborations prompted questions about why nonprofit organizations would consider entering a collaborative, what sort of challenges they might face, and whether the presence of a management support organization (MSO) impacts efficiency.  At best, the empirical work on collaborations is scarce despite their obvious popularity. This case study is a small attempt to rectify that.
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