Bridging the Social Divide: A Grounded View of Partnership-Building in Latin America, Southeast Asia, Southern Africa and North America

Global Philanthropists Circle (Synergos)



Case Study Sector


Collaboration among a diverse range of stakeholders is now widely viewed as essential to solving the world’s most pressing social problems. Partnerships that involve business, civil society and government offer distinct advantages in fighting poverty, disease and inequality. The comparative advantages and unique resources of each sector, when joined in partnership, provide a wide range of needed resources for social projects and programs. However, building effective partnerships is made difficult by a combination of factors, including situations of inherent conflict and a general lack of knowledge regarding how partnerships work. Partnering, it seems, is far easier said than done. It requires a unique style of leadership to gather the type of resources needed and convene relevant actors for collaboration, as well as managing the process once the partnership has been established.
Nevertheless, examples of successful partnerships, though not plentiful, exist in nearly every country in the world. The underlying premise here is that by exploring successful cases of collaboration and comparing the results, we will be able to identify those factors that enable people to bridge social divides and build effective partnerships.
In 2002-03, the Synergos Institute brought together a group of experienced scholars and practitioners from around the world to discover how leaders from a number of countries have successfully bridged divides to improve the quality of life for their constituents and communities. Together, meeting several times both in person and on-line, we defined  the concept of bridging leadership, designed a research protocol, identified case studies and worked and reworked the analytic framework. The process was led and coordinated by Synergos. This paper summarizes the results of that effort.



  • Partnership
  • Strategy


  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Latin America
  • Northern America

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Nov 13

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