Recent years are marked by an unprecedented popularity of various forms of interorganizational collaborations. There is hardly any domain of social, political or economic life unmarked by “buzz-words” such as networking, collaboration or “partnership working”.
Establishing and maintaining collaborative ties has become a “good practice” in corporate governance, policy design, or implementation, or international development. Irrespective of the rapid spread of inter-organizational relationships they remain, however, “poorly understood phenomenon” (Googins & Rochlin 2000). Therefore, one of the main challenges that researchers and practitioners had to face was to develop comprehensive understanding of this multifaceted instrument.
This paper aims to identify and explain emergence of typical “patterns” of inter-organizational collaboration of third sector organizations. Particular attention is devoted to the “transformatory power” of European Union Structural Funds. It starts with the brief review of literatures dealing with the inter-organizational networks in development with the particular focus on third sector organizations. Then, based on the concept of Europeanization, impact of European Integration on patterns of inter-organizational collaboration is theorized. In the subsequent part, using quantitative methods, two typical ways of collaboration, i.e. “weak horizontal” and “strong hierarchical” are identified and their developmental advantages and disadvantages are discussed.
In the main part of this paper, differences in patterns of inter-organizational collaboration between Czech and Polish third sector organizations are explained using the concept of “differential empowerment”, which takes state institutions and third sector agency as key explanatory variables.
In the concluding part, factors behind diverging developmental paths of Czech and Polish third sector are presented.