The shifting dynamics of social roles and project ownership over the lifecycle of a communitybased participatory research project

Jon Salsberg*, Soultana Macridis, Enrique Garcia Bengoechea, Ann C. Macaulay, Spencer Moore, Kanahsohon Deer, Arlene Goodleaf, Judi Jacobs, Morrison King, Dennis Leborgne

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Background. Community based participatory research (CBPR) is often initiated by academic researchers, yet relies on meaningful community engagement and ownership to have lasting impact. Little is understood about how ownership shifts from academic to community partners. Objectives. We examined a CBPR project over its life course and asked: what does the evolution of ownership look like from project initiation by an academic (non-community) champion (T1); to maturation-when the intervention is ready to be deployed (T2); to independence-the time when the original champion steps aside (T3); and finally, to its maintenance-when the community has had an opportunity to function independently of the original academic champion (T4)? Methods. Using sociometric (whole network) social network analysis, knowledge leadership was measured using 'in-degree centrality'. Stakeholder network structure was measured using 'centralisation' and 'core-periphery analysis'. Friedman rank sum test was used to measure change in actor roles over time from T1 to T4. Results. Project stakeholder roles were observed to shift significantly (P < 0.005) from initiation (T1) to project maintenance (T4). Community stakeholders emerged into positions of knowledge leadership, while the roles of academic partners diminished in importance. The overall stakeholder network demonstrated a structural shift towards a core of densely interacting community stakeholders. Conclusion. This was the first study to use Social network analysis to document a shift in ownership from academic to community partners, indicating community self-determination over the research process. Further analysis of qualitative data will determine which participatory actions or strategies were responsible for this observed change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-312
Number of pages8
JournalFamily Practice
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Aboriginal health/native populations
  • Culture and disease/cross-cultural issues
  • Health promotion
  • Prevention
  • Public health
  • Underserved populations


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