Collaborating and Partnering

Module description


The relevance of collaborative versus competitive actions is investigated, together with discussion of differing value judgements and perspectives and a review of current research and practice regarding organisations in networks and ecosystems. The role and importance of integrative approaches to finding agreement is explored in depth, alongside best practice approaches and processes to developing and managing cross-sector and multi-stakeholder arrangements. The content is communicated through a combination of interactive lectures and discussion of group based case examples.

Additional Information:

There is no national basis to this module as it is completely culturally independent. Therefore, students are empowered to work in a wide range of cultures and environments, whether it is working with different cultures within a country or working across different cultures in different countries.

External Engagement
For individual assignments, students associate with a range of external companies. Previously, these have included Coca Cola, luxury goods manufacturers or brands, and a charity for disabled people. Also, two placements with a social enterprise have been provided.

This is a very practical module with extensive reference to academic research on the subjects of collaboration, cooperation, negotiation and partnership process and practice. You will have the opportunity to gain both practical experience and an understanding of negotiating, resolving tensions or conflicts, identifying mutually beneficial outcomes and overcoming biases held by individuals or organisations that might impede future value creation.

The entire content is related to the main theme of sustainability, and a significant part of the module is concerned with moving beyond economic value towards social, environmental and other forms of value that are relevant to sustainability.

All of the resources for this module are available on the ELE (Exeter Learning Environment).

Full module specification

Module title:Collaborating and Partnering
Module code:MBAM816
Module level:M
Academic year:2013/4
Module lecturers:
  • Ward Crawford - Convenor
Module credit:12
ECTS value:






Duration of module: Duration (weeks) - term 1:

4-day module (+ study 8 weeks)

Module aims

Competition brings a host of benefits through the efficient allocation (and constant reallocation) of resources towards the achievement of productive outcomes.  A growing body of evidence however suggests that competition works best alongside active and considered cooperation, and that behaviours based on simplistic judgements of winning or losing will very often lead to lost opportunities, and to sub-optimal outcomes. This module aims to introduce students to the challenges and benefits of collaborating and partnering to achieve strategic objectives in a sustainable manner.  Developing and implementing good strategy is difficult enough in simple environments: it is even tougher in a world where organisations are interconnected through multiple alliances and partnerships, by ever more closely aligned value networks, and by their common use of limited resources. Collaboration can be a strategic objective in itself, for accessing new markets, skills, experience, resources and capabilities: while responses to systemic social, environmental or developmental challenges might require partnership across organisations in more than one of the business, civil society and public sectors.  Whatever the reason, the imperative to collaborate is increasingly significant: yet there is much evidence that many partnerships and collaborative initiatives fail. This raises a challenge for leaders, who must demonstrate competence in identifying where cooperative approaches might be relevant in meeting their strategic aims, while showing that they can make them work successfully.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Understand the basic principles of collaboration and partnering as relevant in different strategic contexts.
  • 2. Understand key areas of risk and opportunity associated with inter-organisational alliances, how different roles and relationship effectiveness impact on their success, and approaches by which these can be managed.
  • 3. Understand and recognise the relevance of different perspectives of value in planning cooperative activities.
  • 4. Recognise sources and types of potential conflict, and describe approaches by which they can be managed or resolved.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 5. Evaluate the suitability of collaborative approaches (intra-organisation, cross-boundary, and cross-sector).
  • 6. Assess and address organisational and behavioural constraints in real or simulated collaboration and partnering arrangements.
  • 7. Establish processes by which multi-stakeholder relationships can be managed effectively

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 8. Demonstrate competence in leveraging positive outcomes from collaborative arrangements (in a personal or work context).
  • 9. Work effectively in multi-cultural groups.
  • 10. Demonstrate effective skills associated with independent research.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Contact hours16Lectures
12Group discussions

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Presentation on live case study (group) 3020 minutes1-9Written feedback to group
Assignment (individual)703000 words1-10Feedback on written report

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Group presentationWritten report – 500 words (30%)1-9One week following
Individual AssignmentRevised essay – 3000 words (70%)1-8, 10End August

Syllabus plan

The strategic context (Managing Value):
• Networks and business ecosystems;
• Collaboration typologies (internal; customer/supplier; alliances and JVs; cross-sector);
• Stakeholder engagement;
• Collaboration as a competence;
• Diversity as a source of innovation.
• Managing Interactions: scoping and establishment;
• When is collaboration the right option;
• Organisational considerations;
• Best practice approaches;
• Influences - perspectives, sense making and worldviews;
• Culture, behaviour and core objectives;
• Trust and the value of co-operation.
• Managing Agreements: conflict management and co-creation;
• Measuring and communicating progress and success;
• Integrative approaches.
• Managing Stakeholders: sustenance, renewal and closure;
• Options for collaborative structures and governance;
• Roles and responsibilities;
• Stakeholder relationships;
• Tools and enablers;
• Review and appraisal.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:
Hansen, M.T. (2009) Collaboration: How leaders avoid the traps, create unity, and reap big results. Boston, Harvard Business Press*
Novak, M and Highfield, R (2011) Super Co-operators. New York, Simon & Schuster. Free Press
Senge, P et al (2008) The Necessary Revolution. How Individuals and Organizations are Working Together. Doubleday.

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Elkington, J. (2004 ) Cannibals with Forks: The Triple Bottom Line,  Chapter Available Online at:

McManus, S., Tennyson, R. (2008) Talking the Walk: A Communication Manual for Partnership Practitioners. IBLF, London

Origin date


Last revision date

20th August 2011