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Public Policy and Administration


Mark Gordon


Collaboration between faith-based organizations and local governments provides an opportunity for projects to be fulfilled when budgets fall short of meeting all of a community's demands. Concerns arise, however, regarding the working relationships of government entities and faith-based organizations, when cosponsoring organizations include participants of various belief systems. The purpose of this case study was to explore participants' perceptions of toleration levels regarding their spiritual beliefs while working within a collaborative setting of mixed faiths. The conceptual framework consisted of Gajda's collaboration theory that states that collaboration is an imperative; is known by many names; is a journey, not a destination; requires the personal to be as important as the procedural; and develops in stages. Two collaboration events were studied, with 5 volunteers from each of the 2 cosponsoring organizations, for a total of 10 participants. The interview questions were written to explore participants’ perceptions of tolerance levels regarding their spiritual beliefs during the collaboration events and to identify factors related to these beliefs that may have either fostered or hindered the work environment. Focused coding was first used to code the data, followed by in-vivo coding to foster emerging patterns. The coded data revealed 2 well organized, goal oriented, and task-driven events that were conducted in a religiously tolerant environment. Key factors that contributed to the success of these events include transparency, preparedness, focus on the common goal, and a deliberately fostered sense of unity among all participants. There are numerous positive implications for communities to incorporate these best practices in their own collaboration efforts.