Mapping Collaboration Ties and Structure in a Multi-Sectoral ...

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Canada is faced with trying to reduce sedentary lifestyles among its citizens, in particular children and youth. Many sectors, including the recreation sector have a clear, but sometimes unrealized role to play. Multi-sectoral collaboration represents a way to join various sectors together who share a common goal of increasing physical activity. Charities can be a conduit to facilitate such multi-sectoral collaborations. However, gaps remain in understanding how partners work together, whether certain sectors share more ties, and how structure impacts the work of charities. This study uses social network analysis to map informal collaboration in a Canadian charity focused on ensuring children and youth have access to organized sport and recreation in their communities. Using an eighteen-question survey, data were collected from partners through an on-line software platform. Results confirmed that individuals across many sectors collaborated; and informal collaboration was most often in the form of asking for help and being knowledgeable while friendship ties were non-existent. The results strongly advocate for paid staff roles as charity staff members held central roles and were responsible for many communication ties. The structure of the charity, which included paid staff and a wide range of partners, facilitated informal collaboration, which through the distribution of financial capital, in particular enabled more children and youth to access sports, recreation, and play in their communities.