Voices From the Field: Practitioner Reactions to Collaborative Research Initiatives

Scott Cunningham, Portland State University

Numerous accounts of the difficulties encountered in research collaborations can be found in the extant literature. Most of these accounts, however, are from the perspective of academically-based researchers. Comparatively little is known about how agency staff respond to these initiatives. To address this gap in knowledge, the paper describes the challenges encountered during an ongoing research collaboration through the voice of agency participants. Interviews were conducted with agency staff who have partnered with a university-based research team in an attempt to implement a continual learning system in their agencies. Despite taking great care to set up the project in a way that was intended to foster collaboration, the project has encountered some difficulty over the course of its first three years. These issues have tended to be structural, contextual, and process related. The paper concludes with suggestions for both the implementation of research collaborations and research on the endeavors themselves.

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Updated 05/20/2006