Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Details

This conference paper was originally published as Harman, J., Factors Influencing Successful Collaboration: The Case of dKnet, Partnerships, Proof and Practice - International Nonprofit and Social Marketing Conference 2008, University of Wollongong, 15-16 July 2008.


Nonprofit organisations in Australia are facing increasing pressure to collaborate, yet much remains to be learned about the factors facilitating successful collaboration performance. This research explores a successful collaboration between eight disability services organisations in Victoria, centred on a shared Internet based knowledge management system. The research seeks to answer the key question: What are the factors associated with successful collaboration in this case? The research confirms a number of factors previously identified in the collaboration performance literature, but also identifies other factors (such as decision-making authority, institutional legitimacy and trust) which are understudied at the current time. Managers of nonprofit organisations (NPOs) in Australia face increasing pressure to engage in inter-organisational collaborations. Policy makers, funders and practitioners alike are extolling the benefits of collaboration; as a way of building financial sustainability, increasing innovation, even as a means to a more just and equitable society (Austin, 2000; Emerson and Twersky, 1996). For small NPOs in particular, collaboration with other nonprofits around such core functions such as marketing may hold particular promise. However, engaging in collaboration seems difficult in practice and much remains to be learned about the factors that influence its success. Against this backdrop, this paper explores a successful collaboration between eight nonprofit disability services organisations across Victoria. It seeks to answer the question: what are the factors associated with successful collaboration in this case? The paper is organised as follows. Section one provides a brief overview of the literature of collaboration performance and the method used by the researcher in this particular case. Section two provides some background to the collaboration (dKnet). It goes on to detail its outcomes and the factors that have significantly influenced its success. The paper concludes with a discussion of these findings and their implications for practitioners, policy makers and researchers of collaboration, nonprofit management and marketing.