This article looks at how leadership works within community based Participatory research (CBPR). Drawing from experience with a CBPR project involving 16 organizations from the community, government, and university sectors, we completed a focused ethnography where we interviewed 18 partnership members who were instrumental in, accountable for, and knowledgeable about Partnership’s formation. These interviews revealed that leadership was exercised in three ways during the formation stage of this CBPR: (1) through individual characteristics; (2) through actions; and (3) as a collective. These findings show that CBPR leadership requires a specific set of skills that draw, not only on collaborative leadership, but also leadership from more traditional, hierarchical settings. While CBPR leadership shares many of the characteristics of traditional leadership, this study shows that non-hierarchical leadership is also possible as Partnerships adapt to support the collaborative process of CBPR.
Merin Oleschuk, one of the PhD candidates I am supervising, recently co-authored Leadership in Community-Based Participatory Research: Individual to Collective. Published in The Engaged Scholar Journal: Community-Engaged Research, Teaching, and Learning, the article was written with Maria Mayan, Sanchia Lo, Ana Laura Pauchulo, and Daley Laing. Merin describes the article here: