Towards designing a process model for leveraging tensions in collaborations between the public safety sector and the creative industry


Thomas van Arkel and André Schaminée

The safety sector is facing major challenges that require new perspectives and creative solutions — leveraging tensions – which are increasing number of partnerships between (public) safety organisations and the creative industry. This is in part driven by the acknowledgement that these issues cannot be addressed by a single actor as these multifaceted problems are beyond their own attainable reach (Austin, 2010; Lasker et al., 2001) and extend beyond their own formal responsibilities (Bason, 2018, p. 55; Waddell, 2005). This inescapable interdependence (Austin, 2010) makes collaboration a prerequisite for effectiveness.

Leveraging tensions

Despite enthusiasm between parties, these collaborations do not always run optimal; affecting the actual systemic impact that these partnerships can have. Collaborations between these two sectors — with people such as public prosecutors, police agents, civil servants or probation officers — often result in conflict and friction, as partners speak different languages, depart from different mindsets and have different practices and ways of working. Where one works with clear legal frameworks, directives and protocols; the other makes use of serendipity, association and ambiguity. How can we leverage tensions to harness partners’ complementary strengths and abilities into a synergistic collaboration?

Key takeaways for participants are:

  1. Learn from and reflect on real-world cases of cross-sector partnerships between creative and safety professionals
  2. Contribute to the development of novel strategies for improving partnership formation and functioning between the safety sector and creative industry; thereby generating knowledge on the role that creative professionals can have in transforming public sectors into more responsive and adaptive cross-sectoral networks.

 Workshop Format

120 minutes | maximum of 25 in five groups

Leveraging Tensions: Workshop Agenda

00:00-00:10 Welcome and plenary introduction to the topic of the workshop

00:10-00:30 Plenary presentation of the (interim) results of a case-study and cultural analysis of the two sectors. We conclude the presentation by listing the most promising opportunities for intervention.

00:30-00:50 Room for questions and discussion of the results

00:50-01:00 Break

01:00-01:30 In groups, develop an intervention for one of the identified opportunities that could help to foster synergy in these kinds of partnerships

  • Discuss the assigned opportunity area to frame it as a group. Think about the specific tensions between the two sectors. (~5 min)
  • Ideate to devise novel strategies or interventions for targeting this opportunity. Think outside the box: the ‘process design’ can have any manifestation, or it may even be something that can be taken away. (~20 min)
  • Prepare a short presentation of your ‘process design’ where you answer the following questions: How did you interpret the opportunity? What is the design? How does it leverage tensions between creative industry and the safety sector? (~5min)

01:30-01:50 Plenary presentations of the results per group (4 min each)

01:50-02:00 Plenary discussion of the results and wrap-up

Expected outcomes

Initial fruitful ideas of how we can leverage the tension between the creative industry and the safety sector to foster synergistic collaborations and partnerships. The results will be used as an initial step in the development of a process model to be further refined through application in cross-sector projects.


Austin, J. E. (2010). The collaboration challenge: How nonprofits and businesses succeed through strategic alliances. John Wiley & Sons.

Bason, C. (2018). Leading Public Sector Innovation 2E: Co-creating for a Better Society. Policy Press.

Lasker, R. D., Weiss, E. S., & Miller, R. (2001). Partnership synergy: a practical framework for studying and strengthening the collaborative advantage. The Milbank Quarterly, 79(2), 179-205.

Waddell, S. (2005). Societal Learning and Change. Routledge.


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Suggested Citation Format

Author(s) (20XX). Article title. In Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSDX) 20XX Symposium. City, Country, Month X-X, 20XX.

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