Partnership practice as collaborative knowledge work: Overcoming common dilemmas through an augmented view of professional expertise

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Children's Services, 2016, 11 (2), pp. 111 - 123
Issue Date:
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Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to shed new light on how partnership practices that build resilience in families work. Two broad questions are explored: first, what are the forms of expertise required in practices that effectively build resilience through partnership; and second, how can some of the challenges practitioners experience when working in partnership be addressed Design/methodology/approach - A theoretical approach is taken, framing partnership as collaborative knowledge work between practitioners and clients. Concepts of relational expertise, common knowledge and relational agency are explored as means to understand the forms of expertise involved in partnership. An empirical example is provided from practices guided by The Family Partnership Model, an approach that has been widely implemented. Findings - These concepts help to address three key challenges experienced by practitioners: client readiness for change, maintaining focus and purpose and using specialist expertise in partnership. This approach elucidates features of partnership practice that distinguish it from expert-led models, while highlighting diverse forms of expertise in play. Originality/value - The framework presented in this paper is distinctive and can be used to identify how practitioners can avoid common dilemmas, even in challenging circumstances with vulnerable families where practitioner-client relationships may be perceived as fragile. It counters the idea that partnership work dilutes professional expertise. Instead, an enriched and augmented view of professional expertise is presented.
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