The costs and benefits to participants in community partnerships: a paradox?

This article examines the degree of stakeholder participation in health and social partnership schemes in relation to their perceptions of benefits, costs, satisfaction, commitment, and ownership. The findings suggest that (a) involvement, commitment, and sense of ownership were invariably associated with high benefits and mostly with low costs; (b) benefits, commitment, and ownership might be more sensitive monitors of involvement than costs and satisfaction; (c) an increase in involvement was initially associated with decreased costs and increased satisfaction up to a point beyond which costs increased and satisfaction decreased despite increasing benefits; and (d) favorable cost-benefit ratios were perceived when the benefits were at least 1.6 times the costs. Partnership initiatives need to explore the involvement “cut-off” point at which the costs (and satisfaction) might change direction. For favorable cost-benefit ratios, benefits need to be at least 60% more than costs (Ansari’s paradox).