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A more recent version of this content exists; this version was replaced on 23 May 2019. The version that replaced it can be found here.

Updated to include result-oriented leadership in the various frameworks of collaborative practices. The bibliography has been expanded and updated.

Updated on 3 September 2013. The previous version of this content can be found here.
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date: 03 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Social workers are uniquely prepared to provide leadership for collaborative practice, especially when they employ intervention logic. Intervention-driven collaboration develops interdependent relationships among people. These relationships are cemented by norms of reciprocity and trust, enabling participants to organize for collective action in response to “wicked” problems characterized by uncertainty, novelty, and complexity.

Among the family of “c-words” (for example, communication, coordination), collaboration is the most difficult to develop, institutionalize, and sustain because it requires new organizational designs, including inter-organizational partnerships, as well as policy change. Notwithstanding the attendant challenges, collaborative practice is a mainstay in multiple sectors of social work practice, including mental health, substance abuse, school social work, complex, anti-poverty initiatives, international social work, workforce development, and research. Growing collaboration with client systems connects collaborative practice with empowerment practice and facilitates the achievement of social work's mission.

Keywords: collaboration, social work practice, collective action, complex change

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