Inter-organizational mentoring encourages the development of managerial competencies and qualities

The UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country has conducted an empirical study that identifies, selects, assesses and classifies the characteristics of inter-organizational mentoring

  • Research

First publication date: 26/03/2019

Nuria Gisbert-Trejo
Nuria Gisbert-Trejo. Photo: UPV/EHU.

In collaboration with a considerable number of organisations and associations, a study conducted at the UPV/EHU’s Institute of Applied Business Economics has analysed the validity of mentoring programmes between professionals at different organisations as a tool for developing managerial competencies and skills. The results of the research can be used as a guide for any organisation that is interested in setting up programmes of this type.

Traditional mentoring is that which is conducted between a mentor and a mentee both of whom belong to the same organisation and on which there is abundant research available. Yet there are few references available about the mentoring conducted individually or in groups between mentors and mentees who belong to different organisations, “even though there are more and more professionals, companies, associations and clusters that opt for this type of inter-organizational mentoring as a formula for personal and professional development,” explained Nuria Gisbert, author of the study into inter-organizational mentoring conducted at the UPV/EHU’s Institute of Applied Business Economics as part of the PhD programme on Business Management, Knowledge and Innovation. “This alternative mentoring practice leads to the participating professional and business sectors to grow in competitiveness through the development of the people involved in these dynamics,” she added.

To expand knowledge about inter-organizational mentoring as a tool in the development of managers and professionals, Gisbert has conducted a rigorous analysis of the methodological basics of this practice and has specified its key components, under the supervision of Dr Jon Landeta and Dr Eneka Albizu, with the collaboration of Dr Pilar Fernández-Ferrín.  In this study they managed to delimit the differences between inter-organizational mentoring and traditional mentoring, they identified the characteristics and results of inter-organizational mentoring and produced a guide of good practices. To conduct this research they had the collaboration of 14 organisations that are implementing programmes of this type and a total of 22 experts from these organisations.


The willingness to share knowledge is essential for competitiveness

Among the advantages provided by inter-organizational mentoring, Gisbert highlights the fact that “programmes of this type provide perspectives on the analysis and resolution of various problems, given that the mentor and mentee come from organisations with different cultures, experiences and activities.  It also encourages the building of connections between people from different organisations and this may culminate in joint projects and actions. In addition, it provides access to greater knowledge by facilitating the potential resource to a larger number of experienced mentors who can contribute their good practices, specialised technical knowledge, different experiences and new trends”.

As Gisbert asserts, “in the case of the Basque Network of Science, Technology and Innovation, inter-organizational mentoring could be a tool of great impact for the network’s agents, given that it would allow the researchers at our centres to share best practices and experiences, develop competences, and have other views. The introduction of this type of inter-organizational mentoring programme among the agents of the Basque Network will result in a system of science, technology and innovation with better qualified, more motivated and more competitive professionals”.

In the study, it has also been possible to determine “what the key characteristics of the mentor and the mentee are, the relationship between the two of them, and the process to make the dynamics more successful”, explained the engineer. On the other hand, the researchers have identified the advantages that mentoring of this type brings to the mentors, the mentees and the organisations themselves. Gisbert highlights the advantages it provides the mentees with and which include “significant improvements in the professional performance of the mentee, as well as in his/her performance in the extra-organizational context and in his/her orientation towards the organisation and his/her colleagues”.

Gisbert concludes by asserting that the results of this research constitute a useful tool for managing talent and professional development, “as it can be used as an academic reference document for the training of mentors and mentees as well as in the implementing of inter-organizational mentoring programmes”. What is more, professional associations, regional development agencies, technological parks, sector clusters “can run programmes of this type to provide their associates with a powerful mechanism for developing key competencies and skills with a greater strategic vision and knowledge pertaining to their organisation and environment”, she concluded.


Additional information

Nuria Gisbert-Trejo is currently the CEO of CIC EnergiGUNE. The following organisations collaborated in the research: the Basque Professional Association of Economists (CVE), the BEAZ–Bizkaia Mentoring Network (which reports to the Chartered Provincial Council of Bizkaia), Gaztenpresa (which reports to Laboral Kutxa), Bilbao Ekintza (agency for economic promotion that reports to Bilbao City Council), Association of Women Business Managers (AED), EHUalumni (organisation that brings together UPV/EHU graduates), Vesper Solutions, Technology Park of Bizkaia, Mentoring School, European Coaching School (EEC), Royal Academy of Engineering (RAI), Mentoring Network of Spain and the Professional Association of Industrial Engineers of Bizkaia (COIIB).

Bibliographic reference