General information

The Model of cross-sectoral cooperation was developed within the INTERREG Baltic Sea Region project “Urban Labs for Better Health for All in the Baltic Sea Region” (Healthy Boost aiming to boost the cross-sectoral cooperation in the municipalities.

Cross-sectoral cooperation is a collaborative effort in which partners from different sectors (public, private, and non-profit) pool their resources to provide joint solutions for the common benefit and address problems and complex challenges.

The Model provides a general framework of cross-sectoral cooperation, guiding partners through best practices for cooperation using a systematic approach. The process of cooperation is the focus of the Model, not the project implementation itself.

The Model can be applied at various levels (leaders, project managers, employees, citizens) by various partners (government, non-government, and small and medium-sized enterprises).

The Model describes five domains of cross-sectoral collaboration.

  • risk identification,
  • leadership,
  • communication,
  • coordination,
  • motivation.

Each domain is described using four cross-sectoral collaboration stages:

  • mapping,
  • planning,
  • implementation,
  • assessment.

The order of use of domains and stages is not defined and can be used according to needs and interests.

The Model can be applied in a variety of ways by examining:

  1. all domains and all stages;
  2. one or more domains that meet your needs;
  3. one or more stages appropriate to your needs.

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Risk identification is the process of determination, assessment and management of risks that could potentially prevent effective cooperation and the achievement of cross-sectoral cooperation goals. In cross-sectoral cooperation, risk identification is mainly concerned with determining the most suitable partners, to move forward with cooperation in a way that doesn’t contradict any set goals or values of the cooperation. The main goal of risk identification is the prevention and/or avoidance of different possible obstacles and challenges for building successful cross-sectoral cooperation.

Leadership is the capacity to maximise the efforts of other partners towards the achievement of a common goal. While different leadership styles may be used, a cross-sector leader must possess a set of skills focused on three broad areas: team building, problem solving, and achieving impact. Thus, cross-sector leadership should derive from social influence, not authority or power. Collaborative leadership is about leading the process of collaborative problem solving and decision-making, rather than the partners. If managing entails organising and coordinating, then leading is about enabling and co-creating.

Communication isa two-way process of reaching mutual understanding, in which participants not only exchange information, but also create and share meaning. It includes the sharing of ideas, concepts, imaginations, behaviours, and written content. Communication serves as a means for connecting participants. It is a key function of management – communication among different partners, levels, departments, and employees is crucial both within the partnership and externally. Three important elements are necessary to conduct communication i.e. the sender, a medium (the platform over which information is conducted) and a recipient.

Coordination is the synchronisation and integration of activities, responsibilities, and command and control structures to ensure that partners cooperate in the most effective way to reach the specified objectives. In cross-sectoral collaboration, the coordination should be inclusive and is the basis for ensuring that the involvement and contribution of all partners is timely and equally directed towards the common goal, while also maximising resources. Coordination tends to manage resources and team members reasonably such that no conflicts arise in the partnership, and it is the baseline for success.

Motivation is the force that initiates, guides, and maintains partners' goal-orientated behaviour in cross-sectoral cooperation. Motivation can be characterised as intrinsic motivation when something is done because it is enjoyable, interesting and pleasant, and extrinsic motivation when something is done because it has a specific consequence. Therefore, common goal and values among partners are crucial elements for motivation to cooperate with one another. Knowing the purpose and ultimate outcome of cooperation or/and finding cooperation beneficial and pleasant might help to overcome the immediate inconveniences and costs of each partner and stay motivated for the continuity of cooperation.

is the preparation stage for cross-sectoral cooperation. At this stage previous experience and current situation in cross-sectoral cooperation is identified and described.

This stage of cooperation is very important in building a sustainable foundation for all partners by determining the aim and goals of cooperation, the available resources and desirable outcomes, and choosing partners accordingly. The mapping stage of cross-sectoral cooperation can be considered as the main outline of how partners want the cooperation to proceed, what they expect from partners and what qualities, or resources that involved parties should provide. This stage also allows one to reflect upon past experiences in cross-sectoral cooperation to help gain perspective and insight into the new partnership. 

is the strategic stage for cross-sectoral cooperation in which the sectoral strategy is transformed into a set of concrete actions. This frequently includes defining the amount, type, and location of each partner's investments. This stage determines and establishes the strategic objectives and responsibilities between partners. Joint planning is required for successful cross-sector cooperation.

is the working stage for cross-sectoral cooperation. At this stage cross-sectoral cooperation takes place according to the previously set plan. At this point it is important to ensure partner engagement in the cooperation process. Setting interim goals can be helpful in seeing the progress of implementation. Transparency, engagement, communication, partner valuation, flexibility and ongoing monitoring of cooperation are crucial elements in the implementation stage.

is the evaluation stage for cross-sectoral cooperation. At this stage cross-sectoral cooperation is assessed in a systematic or comprehensive way. It improves partners’ performance and helps realise their promise and potential. Assessment activities should be undertaken in all stages of the partnership cycle, ensuring where possible that a provision is made for evaluation in the early formative stages of cross-sector cooperation. It does not merely focus on impacts or results, but also on design and operation, benefits to partners, unexpected consequences, value-added and appropriateness or relevance in particular cross-sectoral cooperation. The needs, circumstances, organisational culture, and context of all the partners involved should be considered.