- Kelly McNally KoneyKelly McNally KoneyIndependent Scholar
- and Darlyne BaileyDarlyne BaileyBryn Mawr College
Polarizing conversations and “othering” are becoming norms in individual and organizational discourse, while social, political, economic, and cultural issues—and solutions to manage them—are recognized as increasingly interconnected. Interorganizational alliances (IAs) are one means through which social workers can leverage collective resources toward just and common ground. As systems, policies, and contexts continue to drive the coalescing of organizations into IAs, social workers have an important role to play.
All IAs fundamentally operate to address emergent issues. Understanding the ways organizations come together, the circumstances that drive them, and factors that contribute to their success is essential for maximizing results. IAs vary along a continuum, ranging from loosely connected to structurally unified, and can be broadly understood by the processes that underlie them. No position on the continuum is better (or worse) than another. Their evolution is dynamic, greatly shaped by relational factors such as leadership styles, organizational cultures, and the goals of those who will be affected.
Regardless of whether organizational participants align for internal, operational gain or to better address issues raised within their environment, IAs must clearly identify all who are intended to benefit. In so doing, they must consciously analyze historic interactions, recognizing patterns of discrimination and oppression and establishing systems and narratives that center previously marginalized voices. Only in this way can IAs advance a just and equitable future. Given appropriate preparation through macro education, social workers are well situated for this work.
- Macro Practice