What qualities should partners possess?

An aptitude for collaboration and communication is critical to partnerships. Partners must be willing to negotiate when defining an agenda, communicate about the partnership’s work, engage and consider the needs of a range of stakeholders, and operate with flexibility and poise amid unpredictability.

Steve Fleishman of Education Northwest provides useful advice in determining whether an individual may be a good fit for partnership work: ask job candidates to describe interactions with individuals on similar research projects; invite them to talk about what matters to them most in terms of how they do their job; listen for an inclination toward collaboration, the ability to convey ideas in plain language, and a desire to pursue a joint research agenda to improve practice.

In general, good partners: validate each side’s expertise and authority in advancing collaborative work; cultivate an open and honest approach to communication that builds rapport and trust; demonstrate a commitment to addressing problems of practice and developing agency capacity; and are sensitive to timelines, contexts, and history as the research agenda is negotiated.

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