Trusty award

From left, MPAC President Stephen Kleinschmidt, Ph.D.; Alicia Schatteman, Ph.D., Northern Illinois University; Kelly Trusty, Ph.D., Trine University; and Emma Powell, MPA, Central Michigan University.

Research studied collaboration between academics, nonprofits

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A Trine University professor was part of a group that was presented the Best Paper Award at the 2016 Midwest Public Affairs Conference (MPAC).

The conference was hosted by John Glenn School of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, on June 4.

Kelly Trusty, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Ketner School of Business, collaborated with others in the Pracademics Section of the Association for Research in Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA) on “Collaboration Between Practitioners and Academics: Defining the Pracademic Experience.”

The paper summarized a three-phase study in which the research team first surveyed 115 academic investigators and nonprofit organization practitioners to learn the extent to which the two groups work together on research projects.  Sixteen survey respondents then participated in phone interviews with the researchers in which they described successful practices and lessons learned while creating effective working partnerships.

The primary finding, which was reinforced in a nonprofit community stakeholder discussion, was that relationship- and trust-building, along with creating shared understandings about research goals, is foundational to successful pracademic partnerships.

“Learning about, honoring, and valuing each partner’s perspective and needs was the key takeaway,” Trusty, formerly a nonprofit executive, summarized in a conversation following the conference. “We hope that our ongoing work will help both sides collaborate on research and practice that will do an even better job of creating positive change in communities.”

MPAC Award Committee Chair Michael Ford said that the paper was selected “because it broadly defined the importance of linking the work of academics with the real world. Ours is a practical field, and the survey and interview work detailed in this paper defines the collaborative space as through the eyes of both practitioners and academics. Its lessons are valuable to our field’s ongoing impact and relevance.”

The Midwest Public Affairs Conference (MPAC) is an educational consortium that promotes research, collaboration and socialization between academics, students, policymakers and practitioners.    

The Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA) connects scholars, teachers, and practice leaders interested in research on nonprofit organizations, voluntary action, philanthropy and civil society. The stated purpose of the Pracademics Section is "to build more effective academic-practitioner relationships in order to foster and disseminate high quality research and strengthen nonprofit management education, community service, voluntary action, and philanthropic studies."