Project management and cross-sector partnership are distinctive fields of practice and academic study and yet they both share the challenge of enabling meaningful engagement of stakeholders in nuanced, complex (inter-) organizational contexts. Over the past decade, there has been growing attention to the involvement of stakeholders in project management. In a related vein, partnership practitioners and researchers have long grappled with the challenge of balancing the interests of partners and a wider stakeholder community in cross-sector partnerships. This has particularly become the case as project management methodologies, skill sets and perspectives have been assimilated much more widely in the public, private and non-profit sectors. Funding agencies have begun to make project management practice mandatory in bidding and delivery. Inter-agency working is now axiomatic in effectively tackling complex health, social and security challenges, for example. This raises much deeper concerns for project managers than processes, procedures, reporting, systems and organisational structures. Questions about values and trust are fundamental to successful project outcomes in dynamic environmental contexts.
To what extent do projects and partnerships facilitate or impede stakeholder inclusion? Some of the stakeholders have invited themselves. What are some of the common challenges and key differences of stakeholder engagement in projects and partnerships? How might project managers and partnership practitioners learn from each other about how best to inform, consult, involve, engage and in some cases ultimately collaborate with their corresponding stakeholders.
This paper will explore the synergies and differences between project management and cross-sector partnership concepts, theories, frameworks, and tools in relation to stakeholder engagement. We are particularly interested in exploring the extent to which stakeholder engagement strategies and approaches in current project management and partnering contexts are aligned or diverge.
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