Bioscience

Prof’s new book drives partnership successes

June 30, 2008

By Flinn Foundation

[Source: NAU] – A new book co-authored by a Northern Arizona University Regents’ Professor is putting partnerships on the road to success.

NAU’s Robert T. Trotter II and General Motors Corp. anthropologist Elizabeth K. Briody wrote Partnering for Organizational Performance: Collaboration and Culture in the Global Workplace to help “fill an important gap” in scientific and organizational literature about partnerships.
The book offers insights and practical suggestions for groups working together toward a common goal.

It explores concepts, practices and lessons learned from collaborative relationships involving business, academic and non-profit organizations from different types of organizations and cultures around the world. It also features chapters by experts who provide case studies that highlight ways for people to keep their interactions productive.

“If you think of marriage as a partnership, then in the U.S. they fail more than half the time they are tried, and the picture in business, industry, universities and governments is even grimmer,” Trotter said. “This book is a blueprint of successful partnerships and how to duplicate them.”

Trotter worked with Briody at GM to develop a model for applying effective partnering. Some of the key tools in the model include identifying core conflicts, ways for improving communication, methods for assessing relationships and analyzing data from various working relationships.

The anthropologists used their model to improve GM’s internal relationships and to expand GM’s collaborative research laboratories with universities from four to 12 in the United States, one in India, and more in other countries continue to form. The laboratories help expedite putting cutting-edge research into action.

“Partnerships tend to fail due to circumstances that are actually within the control of the partners,” Briody said. “Partnerships are all about relationships. They require ongoing interactions at every level to keep them strong and healthy enough to handle inevitable tension and conflict.”Trotter said good partnerships foster success for everyone involved. “For NAU the ongoing collaborative research with GM has a lot of long-term benefits. GM has hired two master’s level anthropology graduates and one current graduate student to work in the GM research and development laboratories,” he said.

Trotter and Briody also are authors of a patent “System and Model for Performance Value Based Collaborative Relationships.”