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Managing a web of partners.

Lorenzoni and Baden-Fuller examined a review of literature in the field, historical reviews of successful organizations and companies, and unpublished longitudinal research to determine the need for a Strategic Center to manage a partnership with many associates.

They found that a Strategic Center was perceived as the creator of values to enhance the nature of the partnerships. The center fulfilled several roles including: to require partners to be problem solvers and initiators rather than simply doers; to assist all partners to develop core skills and competencies so sharing of information could occur; and to help partners borrow, share and lend ideas so they could improve.

A Strategic Center engages in several tasks in the management of partners. First, it has an idea and with the partners develops a vision. Second, it makes an investment in the partnership and in the management of that partnership. Third, the Strategic Center establishes and maintains a climate of trust and reciprocity. And fourth, it develops a mechanism to attract and select new partners.

In the attracting and selection of new partners, most Strategic Centers learned what characteristics were important and unimportant by trial and error, until a partner profile began to emerge. The most important element for successful partner. ships was a cultural fit, that is, compatible organizational systems, processes, and shared values/perspectives. Also important was the matching of capabilities of each partner and the resources the partner could contribute. A consistent finding was that each partner needed to reject the idea of doing everything by itself.

Implications for camp

Partnerships are becoming more and more critical (and common) in the work of camps. There are many areas in which camping could benefit from partnerships: raising monies, hiring and training staff, sharing facilities, safety inspections, tripping programs, recycling programs, ground maintenance, recruiting campers, marketing, and so on. Partnerships may be developed with other camps; national offices; private consultants; local, state, and federal governments; commercial ventures; and other entities that have skills and resources to help camp professionals accomplish goals. Any time partnerships are developed, thought must be given to how those relationships will be managed.

This study presents information about the development and purpose of a Strategic Center to manage several partners and achieve a sense of synergy. It was clear that without a management system of some type partnerships struggle.

Camps may wish to brainstorm with senior staff members to ascertain in what areas of camp partnerships could be beneficial. Steps then should be taken to explore those relationships with complete discussions about the potential management of the partnerships. Establishing a Strategic Center would help in forming, managing, and retaining the partnerships. The roles that a Strategic Center will need to fulfill should be negotiated between all partners. Paying close attention to important characteristics and searching out partners that have common organizational values is important to partnership success.

Lorenzoni, G. & Baden-Fuller, C. (1995). Creating a strategic center to manage a web of partners. California Management Review, 37(3), 146-162.

Director attitudes and their impact on the quality of camp

The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of camp director attitude accessibility on camp programs, and to examine the relationships between attitude accessibility and selected demographic information. Attitude accessibility refers to the relationship between an attitude and action. The more extreme an attitude, the more knowledge one has of the subject, and the more involved one is in the field, the more likely that attitude will be accessible. A link was established between positive attitudes which are accessible and the quality of a camp.

Fourteen randomly selected camp directors were chosen and took part in a 10-minute telephone interview. The primary question directed subjects to name as many things as possible which were done to provide a positive and beneficial atmosphere for campers. Numbers were assigned to strength of statements, and content and quantitative analyses were conducted. The data indicated that the four areas that had the greatest impact on a positive and beneficial atmosphere for campers included: directly targeting children's psychological well-being and growth, staff and personnel issues, activity related issues, and administration issues.

There were six hypotheses for which support was mixed: 1) camp directors who attend conferences and read Camping Magazine have more accessible attitudes; 2) after a certain number of years in the field, little attitudinal change occurs; 3) directors of camps that were previously rated as excellent (on an independent scale) make better quality statements; 4) the more expensive the camp, the better quality the camp; 5) the larger the camp, the less quality the camp; and 6) years in position would not be related to camp quality.

All directors reported attending conferences and reading Camping Magazine; therefore, there was no data to analyze to support or reject this hypothesis. The number of years directors had in the field was not related to quality or quantity of statements. However, director attitudes did relate to the quality of the camp. Cost of camp was not related to better quality statements, however, the size of a camp did impact camp quality. The number of years in the field did not relate to quality of attitudes.

Implications for camp

Camp quality is more than the number of campers, types of programs, or environmental setting. It is always relevant to examine camp director attitudes and their impact on quality of camp. While this study addressed only a small component in attitude research, it does lend some insights to the impact of director attitudes on camp quality.

As the investigator mentioned in his paper, it is not the number of years in the field or as a director that creates quality attitudes that make a difference in quality attitude statements. It is the choice of attitudes a director makes that influences camp in positive or negative ways.

The quality of camp was related to attitude accessibility. It appears that the more directors are aware of their actions and philosophies related to providing quality experiences to children, the more accessible their attitudes. More accessible attitudes are more likely to result in action.

One interesting finding that needs to be further studied is that the more campers a camp served, the lower the quality score. It was suggested that this might be due to directors at larger camps having to be distant from campers in order to complete administrative tasks. Perhaps the personal contact with campers by the director had an impact on camp quality.

Grayson, R. (1995). Effects of attitude accessibility of summer camp directors on their program and its relation to capacity, fees, years as a director, year in the industry, and standing of the camp. Unpublished paper, Claremont Graduate School, Claremont, CA.

A call for more research

Organized camping will only improve with increased knowledge. Research that provides information that could benefit the camp field is of great importance. Partnerships might be developed between several camps for joint research; between university members and staff; or might include the American Camping Association national office, camp staff, and commercial vendors.

As with all research, it is also important that follow-up studies be conducted to confirm or refute single report findings. Camp directors, leisure services professionals, those in higher education, and others involved in the camp field are encouraged to engage in camp-related research and submit results to be shared in this Research Column. Please contact Deb Jordan for assistance in establishing research partnerships or beginning a research agenda.

Deb Jordan, Re.D, is an associate professor of leisure services at the University of Northern Iowa. Send your letters and one-page summaries of research related to camp to: Research Notes, c/o Dr. Deb Jordan, Leisure Services Division, 203 East Gym, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0161. Note: Only research completed within the past two years will be considered for review.
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Article Details
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Author:Jordan, Debra J.
Publication:Camping Magazine
Date:Sep 1, 1995
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