Coordinating community business infrastructure

As part of the ongoing evaluation of Power to Change’s market development work, this paper examines the strategic relationships between Power to Change and infrastructure bodies which support and represent community businesses. The work was completed by Rob MacMillan at the Centre for Regional Economic Social Research (CRESR) at Sheffield Hallam University, through a series of interviews and a survey with Power to Change staff and representatives from its community business infrastructure partners.

The report assesses the value, reach and impact of Power to Change’s additional investment in supporting collaboration amongst allied infrastructure bodies and networks. It finds that the infrastructure collaboration has generated benefits at different levels: for the individuals involved (peer support and learning), for the collaborating organisations (dedicated resources for organisational development, sharing best practice, knowledge and expertise) and for frontline community businesses (improved and more streamlined support). There are some downsides to working in collaboration (features of ‘collaborative inertia’) but these appear to be practical rather than strategic. Looking ahead, the award of extended funding for Power to Change and a new five year strategic plan to 2025 changes the assumptions upon which the collaboration was working, but the question of legacy remains an important one