Government, Private Sector, and Civil Society for Sustainable Development: Toward a Collaborative Synergy in Latin America


The Research Process 


RCLA and the AVINA Foundation have conducted a comparative research initiative to identify, study and support the dynamics of collaboration among nongovernmental organizations, businesses, and the public sector.


RCLA led a team of AVINA representatives and local researchers in Colombia and Brazil to investigate the nature of the relationship among the public, private and nonprofit sectors, and the extent to which, from the perspective of the local actors, these collaborations can be associated with the creation of public spaces where public value is developed and democracy strengthened.

The research design included two methodologies: Cooperative Inquiry (CI) and the Extended Case Study (ECS). These two methodologies and research processes are complementary in various ways. First, the methodologies provide different perspectives and types of data that may provide a more comprehensive understanding of the nature of cross-sector collaboration and the factors that affect their sustainability. The Cooperative Inquiry provides an inside-out perspective; the CI process engaged actors from the three sectors in structured conversations to reflect on their practice and produce collective knowledge about building and sustaining cross-sector collaborations. Meanwhile, the ECS provides an outside-inside perspective, generating a broader understanding of the contextual factors that shape the nature and evolution of cross-sector collaborations.

Second, the process was designed to start simultaneously in Brazil and Colombia. This multi-site research process facilitated dialogue and preliminary comparison of emerging themes not only across initiatives but also across countries.

The two Cooperative Inquiry processes and six case studies were conducted for approximately a year and a half. The CI process in each country involved four meetings with leaders from each sector participating in the collaborations. These meetings took place in Bogotá and Belo Horizonte between August 2007 and April 2008. CI meetings seek to generate structured conversations around both day-to-day challenges of work and more systemic issues of concern to these participants. This space offered an important opportunity for these leaders to engage in reflection, foster action and produce practice-grounded knowledge.

The field work for the case studies started in December 2007 and finished in August 2008. The local research team conducted field research in several cities in Brazil and Colombia, including Brasília, São Paulo, Belo Horizonte, Feira de Santana, Bogotá and Medellín. This case studies research process included

  • secondary data collection through document review (organizations' own written material, newspapers and relevant literature about the social problems addressed by other authors);
  • semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders;
  • participant observation; and
  • data analysis and writing of the final report.

»Read the report


Background reports (in Spanish and Portuguese)

Case Studies from Colombia (Spanish)

Cooperative Inquiry Report from Colombia (Spanish)

Case Studies from Brazil (Portuguese)

Cooperative Inquiry Report from Brazil (Portuguese)