Strategic Community: An Approach for Developing Interorganizational Collaboration

Led by Dr. Mario Roy (left) and Madeleine Audet (right) 

With members of the Work Organization Studies Chair, Université de Sherbrooke: Annie Gosselin, Pier B. Lortie, Lucie Fortier


Improving the accessibility of healthcare services within the Estrie region of Quebec, a region characterized by scarce human and financial resources, was the catalyst for pursuing the “Strategic Community” (SC) approach. The SC approach set out to transform the organization of work among healthcare institutions in the region and has made it possible to:

  • Breakdown the barriers between work silos in various institutions in order to jointly implement simultaneous changes and end the deadlock in situations initially perceived by the partners as unresolvable
  • Significantly improve collaboration between institutions and trust between frontline, second line and third line players, thereby reducing tensions between the partner organizations
  • Take action on concrete things to be changed, as defined by the managers and the caregivers who work with the same clients
  • Transfer lessons learned to other parts of the care continuum

This approach works well in cases where:

  • The target care continuum serves vulnerable people who require complex care (e.g. oncology, mental health) and frequent appointments in various institutions
  • The existing situation is perceived as unsatisfactory by clients and caregivers in the partner organizations
  • The shortage of human and financial resources encourages people to reconsider the way work is organized

This approach is based on:

  • The conviction, held by all of the partners, that it is necessary to work together to improve the organization of work, and make it a strategic priority
  • A management method that values research and the implementation of solutions from the ground up
  • Active and ongoing participation by the general managers on the steering committee
  • A financial investment to set up the Strategic Community and its supporting structure: a managing director in each institution, a support committee consisting of designated managers in the partner organizations, an advisor-facilitator assigned exclusively to the Strategic Community, an external intervener and an experienced moderator.