Panel 13. How to keep up the momentum? Exploring the role of network orchestrators in dealing with collaborative inertia in CSPs

Cross-sector partnerships (CSPs) are increasingly formed to realize transformative change. However, network orchestrators – the ‘backbone organizations’, secretariats or actors that initiate the formation of the CSP and orchestrate its implementation – oftentimes have to deal with ‘collaborative inertia’, processes marked by the waning of the initial enthusiasm, energy and commitment of CSP participants; the ongoing struggle to overcome challenges such as agreeing on common aims, sharing power or building trust; and the consequent limited output created from joint activities1. Ultimately, collaborative inertia may hamper the actual value created through the CSP. In this panel, we aim to explore how CSP participants, and network orchestrators in particular, manage this collaborative inertia that occurs in many CSPs. With a mixed panel of researchers and practitioners, we will address three sets of questions. First, the how and why of collaborative inertia: What causes collaborative inertia? How does it manifest itself, and in what CSP stages is it most likely to occur? What effects does collaborative inertia have on collaborative value creation and the impact of the CSP? Second, the role of network orchestrators in dealing with collaborative inertia: How can network orchestrators recognize and prevent collaborative inertia in CSPs? How do network orchestrators reconcile tensions when tackling collaborative inertia in CSPs? What are the ‘best practices’ in dealing with collaborative inertia? What capabilities are required for network orchestrators to effectively deal with collaborative inertia? Third, the role of network orchestrators in contributing to collaborative inertia: To what extent are network orchestrators themselves also (unintentionally) causing collaborative inertia? What motivates orchestrators to remain in their role rather than transferring responsibility to other organizations?