10 Questions to Ask Before Forming a Network

While networks can be a highly effective way to engage issues of scale or complexity, they are not the answer for every issue. Below are ten questions to consider before forming a network or partnership.

  1. Is the identified problem beyond the capacity of any one organization?
  2.  
  3. Is this a problem or issue where the stakes are high?
  4.  
  5. Is the issue complex?
  6.  
  7. Have other traditional methods already been tried?
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  9. Is it likely that a common aim could be identified and agreed to?
  10.  
  11. Do the organizations involved have similar cultures and values?
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  13. Is there enough diversity among potential participants to provide multiple perspectives on the problem?
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  15. Is there a history of trusting relationships among the organizations that would comprise the network? If not, is there enough time to develop them before tangible outcomes are expected?
  16.  
  17. Will you have the necessary resources to develop and implement a network?
  18.  
  19. Is the issue one that will require long-term collaboration? 

Adapted from: Bryson et al., 2006; Holley, 2012; Huxham & Vangen, 2005; Keast et al., 2004; McGuire, 2006; Provan & Lemaire, 2012; Raab & Milward, 2003 

Note: A negative response to any of these questions does not necessarily mean that forming an inter-organizational network is a bad idea. Rather, they are outlined here to support careful consideration about when a network might be the most appropriate organizational form

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