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Collaborating against Human Trafficking

Cross-Sector Challenges and Practices

Kirsten Foot

In the fight against human trafficking, cross-sector collaboration is vital—but often, systemic tensions undermine the effectiveness of these alliances. Kirsten Foot explores the most potent sources of such difficulties, offering insights and tools that leaders in every sector can use to re-think the power dynamics of partnering.

Weaving together perspectives from many sectors including business, donor foundations, mobilization and advocacy NGOs, faith communities, and survivor-activists, as well as government agencies, law enforcement, and providers of victim services, Foot assesses how differences in social location (financial well-being, race, gender, etc.) and sector-based values contribute to interpersonal, inter-organizational, and cross-sector challenges. She convincingly demonstrates that finding constructive paths through such multi-level tensions—by employing a mix of shared leadership, strategic planning, and particular practices of communication and organization—can in turn facilitate more robust and sustainable collaborative efforts. An appendix provides exercises for use in building, evaluating, and trouble-shooting multi-sector collaborations, as well as links to online tools and recommendations for additional resources.

All royalties from this book go to nonprofits in U.S. cities dedicated to facilitating cross-sector collaboration to end human trafficking. For more information and related resources, please visit
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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 230Size: 6 1/4 x 9 1/4
978-1-4422-4692-8 • Hardback • September 2015 • $75.00 • (£49.95)
978-1-4422-4693-5 • Paperback • September 2015 • $38.00 • (£24.95)
978-1-4422-4694-2 • eBook • September 2015 • $36.00 • (£24.95)
Kirsten Foot is professor of communication at the University of Washington. She has published extensively on organizing processes, digital media, and practice-based theory; she serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Human Trafficking, and on advisory committees for several multi-sector anti-trafficking initiatives.
Foot’s honest and critical attention throughout her book to the visible and the not-so-visible challenges to cross-sector collaboration against human trafficking is a refreshingly clever approach to partnership-building within this growing field. Though human trafficking is often cited as a crime that is 'hidden in plain sight', Foot works to confront this belief in her book by encouraging stakeholders of all backgrounds and positioning - from victims to survivors to law enforcement, governments and VSPs - to persevere through challenges of collaboration together. In doing so, Foot makes a strong case for an achievable and worthwhile way forward in the anti-trafficking arena in the United States and beyond.
Slavery Today: A Multidisciplinary Journal of Human Trafficking Solutions

[Foot's] insights into the roles of gender, race, class, and nonsurvivor or survivor status…contribute important knowledge to the countertrafficking field. They may also point to further lines of inquiry…. Because human trafficking hinges on the disempowerment and debasement of human beings, Foot’s special attention to the role of power dynamics within counter-trafficking collaborations appears particularly important for social workers and other collaborators to consider closely…. Foot’s many years of study, her balanced and inclusive approach, and her dissemination of practical knowledge makes her a reliable source of information for those who are committed to improving or building their own countertrafficking collaborations.
Social Work

Kirsten Foot’s book is a timely contribution to the field…. This book in many ways reveals some of the implicit and silent barriers and impediments that influence collaboration efforts; some of which may be true to any sector, and some of which may be specific to the countertrafficking field. Overall, the book offers some interesting and important accounts…. [I]t is a well-written book, it weaves together anecdote, data analysis, and the broader literature in an assured and engaging way, and it will be of interest to those seeking to improve collaboration efforts and to scholars of communication studies more generally.
Journal of Human Trafficking

I enjoyed reading this book and believe it should be required reading for all management researchers with an interest in multisector collaboration and its role in social and environmental justice. Foot’s work is academically rooted but also the product of direct experience in the field. Her observations are based on the literature, an in-depth study of various collaborations around trafficking, and her own experience volunteering in the sector. The book is full of fascinating vignettes from her field research that bring the topic to life. And given that these vignettes always at least touch on, and often engage deeply with, the horrors of trafficking, they keep the reader highly engaged in a way not often encountered in our field.
Administrative Science Quarterly

[Foot] presents a first-hand account and thoughtfully constructed conclusions around the many issues that develop when anti-trafficking organizations work together towards defeating human trafficking…. The book summarizes and provides a clear structure to many issues that have yet to be collectively considered in this field. Foot has written a highly practical text that makes many useful suggestions for improving inter-organizational collaboration by offering group exercises and resources that combat human trafficking. Her protocols are well referenced and include detailed footnotes…. Overall, Foot succeeds in drawing the reader in with captivating notes from her interviews, field work and experiences and utilizes jargon that is accessible to audiences of different levels. This text is succinct yet detailed, and the author makes a clear point to remain as impartial as possible in order to encourage the reader to view issues presented from multiple perspectives. This book is very relevant to inter-professional care because it can be used as a point of reference when considering potential issues and improvements for collaboration within not only criminal justice and social work, but also other health-related and community-focused fields. Foot states that trust, respect and perseverance are the values required to improve interdisciplinary collaboration – a necessary and central factor – in the fight against human trafficking.
Journal of Interprofessional Care

Collaborating against Human Trafficking addresses a very important issue: what works in much vaunted partnerships to fight trafficking. Policymakers, scholars, and aspiring activists would do well to heed the lessons about sound and aligned goals in this book, as those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.
Hon. Mark P. Lagon, president of Freedom House and former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large to Combat Trafficking in Persons

As a survivorship expert, I consider this book a must read for anyone working to counter human trafficking.
Sheila M. Houston, MNPL, pastor and founder of Rare Coins Ministries

Foot has written an excellent book: thoughtful, well researched, and instructive. I urge business leaders to read it and engage in the twenty-first-century fight against human slavery.
Marilyn Carlson Nelson, co-founder of the Global Business Coalition Against Trafficking; former chair and CEO of Carlson; recipient of a U.S. Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons; recipient of a U.S. State Department Trafficking in Persons Hero Award; recipient of the U.N. G.I.F.T.’s Business Leader’s Award

This useful and much needed resource explores hard truths of collaboration in honest and helpful ways.
Kathleen Morris, program manager, Washington Anti-Trafficking Response Network, International Rescue Committee in Seattle

Foot brings to light the challenges of cross-sector collaboration, the frustrations and rewards for those involved in collaborative anti-trafficking efforts, and what can be achieved—or lost. This highly readable book should be required reading for anyone engaged in collaborative work.
John Vanek, leadership and anti–human trafficking consultant, Lt. (Ret.), San Jose Police Human Trafficking Task Force

An excellent examination of multisector collaboration. Kirsten Foot draws on astute research, exceptional insights, and illustrative examples to beautifully explain both the tensions inherent in and the benefits to be derived from incorporating many intersecting perspectives.
AnnJanette Alejano-Steele, cofounder of the Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking

Anyone who has worked on the ground to end trafficking will instantly recognize the trials, tradeoffs, and triumphs involved in collaborative work. Foot takes the reader directly into these day-to-day efforts, demonstrating how much has been learned and how much more there still is to do.
Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick, Joan B Kroc School of Peace Studies, University of San Diego

Incorporates perspectives from a wide array of sectors involved in anti-trafficking efforts, including not just law enforcement and victim service providers but also businesses, donor foundations, NGOs, faith communities and survivor-activists.

Analyzes the systemic tensions that affect all cross-sector collaborations.

Draws on insights from sociology and organizational communication, and fieldwork in cities across the U.S.

Offers evidence-based recommendations on practices for improving collaboration against human trafficking.

Includes an appendix of exercises, tools, and resources to facilitate cross-sector collaboration.

Straightforward presentation and practical advice will be useful to professionals involved in anti-trafficking efforts.

All royalties from this book go to nonprofits in U.S. cities dedicated to facilitating cross-sector collaboration to end human trafficking.

• Winner, Foreword Reviews' INDIEFAB Book of the Year Finalist
• Winner, 2016 Sue DeWine Distinguished Award for a Scholarly Book from the Applied Communication Division of NCA
• Winner, 2016 Outstanding Book Award from the Organizational Communication Division of NCA