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There is increasing recognition that relationships are important to improving the delivery of public services and hence social outcomes. Practitioners have observed that a ‘transactional’ approach to contracting may not always be appropriate. Fortunately, an alternative – relational contracting – has been well-researched and applied in the private sector. However, there has been less work on its use in grants and contracts involving government or public bodies.

This guide has been developed to explain concretely what relational working between organisations is and how to do it, to support people to experiment more boldly with such approaches –and importantly, to help manage some of the risks inherent in them. Anyone who works to improve social outcomes in any organisation at any level –whether in the public, private or social sectors –can make changes to the way they and their organisation work that unlock the benefits of relational practice, and manage its risks.