Theorizing Organizational Learning to Enhance Youth–Adult Partnerships in Community-Based Youth Serving Organizations

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Youth–adult partnerships are intentionally cultivated intergenerational relationships characterized by shared power among youth and adults. Although youth–adult partnerships (Y-APs) are widely adopted as a strategy to promote key positive development outcomes in youth service organizations, research documents various challenges that affect their quality implementation. This critical literature review presents a theoretical framework for how community-based youth service organizations may enhance youth–adult partnership quality through organizational learning. The main premise is that Y-AP implementation challenges are best understood as challenges of collective learning within an organization. As such, the review integrates theory and research in organizational learning with present scholarship on Y-APs to delineate how two learning processes—intra-group and inter-group knowledge transfer—influence Y-AP quality. These learning pathways exist in dynamic interaction at different levels of the organizational hierarchy, at the point of service and beyond. The theoretical framework provides a road map for effective functioning of Y-APs in practice and an interpretive lens for descriptive and intervention research to understand and address Y-AP challenges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)513-530
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican journal of community psychology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Implementation
  • Learning
  • Organization
  • Positive youth development
  • Youth engagement
  • Youth–adult partnerships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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