Partnerships between public agencies and nonprofit organizations, corporations, and private businesses are not a new phenomenon. The National Park Service has been involved in partnerships since its creation in 1916 when, for example, it involved the railroads and the hotel industry in providing transportation, meals, and accommodations for the first park visitors. Since then the size and scope of partnerships engaged in by public agencies have grown and the nature of these partnerships has become more complex. Today many park managers regard partnerships as a strategy for more effective park management because they can help expand the range of services a park can offer. They also increase public support by enhancing opportunities for park visitors to learn about and participate in park management and help build a sense of community pride (Vaske et al. 1995).
With this expansive role for partnerships comes the need for NPS managers to be knowledgeable of NPS policies and to possess a variety of management skills if they and stakeholders are to work together optimally. In an interview published on the NPS Web site http://www.nps.gov/partnerships/, National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis explained his view that “partnership skills are a core competency.” He continued, “Our employees must be able to find and welcome partners, to reach common ground, and leverage each other’s skills and resources.” Thus partnership management is a core competency that can help to carry out the NPS mission and deliver public service at a higher level. The challenge is to more effectively grow this competency by building on past partnership successes and developing new capacity for enhanced partnership management Service-wide. However, very little effort has been made to study, understand, and manage partnerships in a proactive manner.
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This page updated:
22 March 2013
Suggested citation for this article:
Weddell, M. S., R. Fedorchak, and B. A. Wright. 2013. Improving National Park Service partnerships: A gap analysis of external partners. Park Science 29(2):49–53.
Available at http://www.nature.nps.gov/ParkScience/archive/PDF/Article_PDFs/ParkScience29(2)FallWinter2012-2013_49-53_Weddell_et_al_3640.pdf.
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