The PARTNER Team, based in the Center on Collaborative Governance (CCG) at the School of Public Affairs (SPA) at the University of Colorado Denver (UCD) is actively involved in local, regional, and national level research and evaluation projects. Our team is made up of experts in the area of Organizational Network Evaluation, Placed-Based Evaluation, GIS Analysis, Stakeholder Involvement, and Network Analysis, providing a specific range of expertise not typically found in one organization. Our evaluation approach is based on a Community Based Participatory Model, with a focus on reflective learning and evidence-based practice.  Collectively, we have a strong set of experience in evaluations and research related to organizational networks analysis and place-based evaluation.

To learn more about our evaluation framework go here or contact us at partnertool@ucdenver.edu.

Many communities find themselves in need of assessment of their interorganizational networks. We use mixed methods, including social network analysis, survey research, and qualitative methods to help communities demonstrate how their collaborative activities are making an impact, meeting goals, and using these data to help develop strategies for strengthening community networks.

We help communities:

– Demonstrate to funders, partners, and stakeholders how their collaborative efforts are making an impact.
– Help network members and leaders think about how to strengthen their networks.
– Facilitate working meetings to help network members articulate their “ideal network” and construct norms and action steps for getting to their ideal network configuration.
– Provide quantitative data to describe the quality, content, and intensity of network partnerships.
– Develop presentations, reports, and grant application language to communicate with stakeholders, funders, policymakers, and partners.

See a list of our Clients and Projects here.

Our Approach and Evaluation Framework are listed below.

What is a Community Based Participatory Approach? Our evaluation approach is based on a Community Based Participatory Model, where stakeholders are involved in all levels of research and evaluation from project/logic model design, assessment selection and data collection, self-identification of needs and strengths, interpretation of findings and results, and an ongoing learning environment of reflective learning.  We take an interactive approach to research and evaluation, emphasizing that the work is a partnership between the stakeholders, funders, and the evaluation team. We believe our team should have the skills and expertise needed to support the stakeholders, including access to other networks, familiarity with analytic methods and tools, and a keen ability to translate data and findings into easily understandable reports and other messaging.  On the other hand, stakeholders involved bring their practical experiences to the work and we rely on their backstories, experiences, and feedback to collectively shape the evaluation as it unfolds over the life of the work. Stakeholder reactions, feedback, and suggestions provide validity and give the project practical applicability. We approach all of our work from this perspective.

The PARTNER Network Evaluation Framework. The PARTNER Network Evaluation Framework was developed through research and evaluation of over 150 community networks. While the evaluation approach continues to be enhanced as the team learns from ongoing projects, the four primary areas of measurement include: Attribution, Perceptions, Agreement, and Interrelationships. These are built into all PARTNER research and evaluation designs, are foundational in the PARTNER survey, and are used to guide the analysis and assessments. All four of these dimensions help us understand the network, assess the strength of the network, and provide data to inform network leadership (the process of making decision about how to manage your network). Below we briefly describe each one.

Attribution: Many networks are facilitated and organized by a primary organization, sometimes called a Lead Organization, a Network Administrative Organization, or a Backbone organization. Others are governed by a group of organizations. Regardless, we often want to know how the growth and development of relationships in a network are started and fostered over time. The PARTNER tool (customized) can assess how the growth of relationships in a network are attributed to certain entities.

Perceptions: An important piece of information for any network leader to understand are the perceptions that members hold of one another, as well as perceptions of the network itself. The PARTNER survey collects data on both of these aspects. Specifically, we learn about the perceptions network members have of one another in terms of the value of the partnership (measured as power/influence, resource contribution, and time commitment) and trust (measured as mission congruence, reliability, and communication).

Agreement: The extent to which members of a network agree on the way the network is functioning is a key component to network leadership. Whether the members report that the network is or is not achieving its outcomes is as important as whether or not they agree on these assessments. The degree to which a network’s members agree on these assessments is an indicator for a network leader of whether the network is functioning well or not.

Interrelationships: The actual relationships among members, including the intensity, quality, and content of the relationships tells us about the structure and strength of the network. The PARTNER survey uses standard social network methodology to assess the interrelationships of the network. We can then assess how attribution, perception, and agreement are associated with the structure of the network.