“Turf-ism” can be defined as non-cooperation or conflict between organizations with seemingly common goals or interests. Whether over resources, recognition, or control, turf struggles can threaten coalition vitality. Traditionally, coalition leaders’ response to turf struggles has been to ask coalition membership to “leave their hats at the door”. However, The Tension of Turf: Making it Work for the Coalition takes a different approach to addressing turf issues.
Turf struggle implies the existence of valuable turf. Especially in the social work and public health arenas, groups have a deep belief in what they do, and they connect that with their core identity. While this passion may lead to turf battles, it is also the reason the group is willing to work with other organizations towards a larger goal. Rather than suppressing struggles, and thereby diminishing the importance of turf, coalition leaders must find ways to incorporate that passion into the overall collaborative effort. The Tension of Turf was developed as a tool to help practitioners working within coalitions to identify, address, and manage turf issues.
Successful coalitions learn to anticipate and validate turf issues as part of solidifying partnerships and gathering their full strength. Tension of Turf offers practical support for skillfully managing the dynamic tension that commonly arises when people collaborate. It helps coalitions derive authentic, constructive power from their varying perspectives, skills, and mandates.
Tension of Turf is the companion tool to our coalition-building guide, Developing Effective Coalitions: An Eight Step Guide.