Social interaction of leaders in partnerships between schools and universities: tensions as support and counterbalance
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Partnerships between schools and universities have been emphasized over the last two decades within educational development research. Moving from the traditional single-organization orientation toward a multiple-organization orientation has challenged school leaderships to improve their decision-making processes to align with changing organizational structures, resulting in wider use of partnerships. This study recognizes the importance of addressing the role of tension amongst leaders in partnerships between schools and universities. This paper presents a longitudinal study, inspired by constructivist grounded theory, conducted in a pilot partnership between schools and a university. The data analysis was grounded in a mix of observations and document studies, all associated with multiple levels of leadership within the partnership. Three areas of tense situations were revealed: Assessment of investments, Assessments of outcomes, and Assessments of commitments. An acknowledgment of the tension was also evident in the findings. A theoretical framework of practice architectures was implemented to analyze the intersection of the findings. The findings highlighted how tension in social interaction can be both constructive and constraining in achieving a sustainable collaboration, depending on how well the plans and the main purpose of the partnership are aligned within the organizations.