‘Building bridges’ is a metaphor we have used to describe a collaborative research process involving social work academic and senior practitioners from government and non-government child protection and family service organizations in Victoria, Australia. Thepurpose of the research was to develop a ‘practice-generated approach to policy implementation’ in child protection practice. The research sought to explore the appropriateness of social constructionist approaches for child protection practice that might enhance the existing risk paradigm. This article aims to critically evaluate the process of ‘building bridges’ and its outcomes, by focusing on how potential and actual differences between organizational contexts, namely universities and various service-providing organizations, may influence relationships between theory and practice. We critically reflect on our research process comparing it with idealized forms of collaborative research discussed in the literature.