The existing literature on the role that organizational resources (such as staff time allocations and financial support) play in enabling collaborating, learning, and adapting is relatively sparse. However, several studies in the corporate sector have focused on the benefits of resource investment in collaboration. A literature review of corporate strategic alliances and models of collaboration highlighted the significant gains that collaborating partners received from leveraging resource capabilities, social capital and knowledge sharing.
In the development sector, research shows that the effectiveness of an adaptive approach depends critically on getting the right staff. For example, a 2016 study on DFID-funded adaptive programming in practice found that character traits and competencies (such as curiosity, facilitation, teamwork, and the ability to trust) were directly related to the ability of teams to achieve their outcomes.
Moreover the literature discusses structural inequalities in aid and development systems based on the flow of resources from North to South, which strongly impacts partnerships and learning dynamics. For example, unequal resources and power relations between Northern and Southern institutions often result in knowledge transfer from Northern organizations to the Southern ones, rather than projects rooted in local knowledge and adapted to local contexts. The literature highlights the benefits and importance of mutual learning partnerships. In addition, Southern organizations’ competition for and dependence on limited funding from Northern donors often hampers collaboration and partnerships among local organizations.
Resources are an enabler in the following ways:
- Individuals who are curious, have growth mindsets, and are able to empathize with their colleagues are general better able to adapt to changing circumstances.
- Resources strongly influence power dynamics in funding relationships that affect the implementation and impact of collaborating, learning, and adapting.
- Studies conducted in the corporate sector have found that a resource investment in collaboration can result in profitable returns.
- Leveraging resources strategically is positively linked with significant gains in social capital and knowledge sharing by collaborating partners.