Over 97 per cent of English local authorities cooperate with one another, providing common public services across separate council areas. Ruth Dixon and Thomas Elston consider how and why this occurs. In a follow-up to their previous post, they find that propensity to collaborate is unpredictable, but partner choice can be partly explained by geographical proximity of councils and similarities in organizational and resource characteristics. Contrary to the view that collaboration is a wholly ‘rational’ strategy chosen simply to improve service costs or quality, therefore, this analysis suggests that both efficiency and legitimacy influenced reform choices.Continue reading →
Complexity theorists talk about “networks of networks.” Engineers talk of “systems of systems.” My article in Policy & Politics is essentially about “collaborations of collaborations.”
Large-scale efforts to address multi-faceted problems that mobilize many independent stakeholders often take the form of compound collaborations. The collaborative Everglades Restoration Program in the U.S. includes over 80 restoration projects, each requiring collaboration. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a complex effort aggregating the outputs of thousands of scientists collaborating in different tasks forces and working groups. And UNAIDS, the Stop TB Partnership, and the Roll Back Malaria Partnership–the subjects of my article–are international collaborations of national collaborations to halt the spread of major global diseases.
Our stock of knowledge about collaborative governance has grown significantly in the past decade. But we still know relatively little about the leadership and organizational challenges faced by large-scale Continue reading →
Caught between falling tax revenues and increasing expenditures, governments across the world are looking for new ways of extracting economy and efficiency from the public sector. As in the past, the claim that business can deliver public services more efficiently than the state, provides a key inspiration for reform.
Governments can engage the private sector in public service delivery in a number of different ways. They can open clearly specified functions – like cleaning, refuse collection or grounds maintenance – to a competitive tendering process and then contract with the organisation which promises best value. Alternatively, they may externalise – or, in more loaded terms, ‘privatise’ – the delivery of a whole service, Continue reading →
Over the last few decades, successive UK governments have encouraged the transfer of local authority staff into new employee-owned mutual organisations (also known as ‘spin-outs’). These spin-outs often take the organisational form of social enterprises that continue to deliver public services, but as self-reliant and independent organisations. Policy-makers are hoping that by encouraging public sector workers to be more entrepreneurial, public services can become more innovative, efficient and responsive to the needs of those who use them. The ultimate aim of this policy is to improve services at the same time as making savings to the public purse. Continue reading →
by Rhys Andrews, James Downe, and Valeria Guarneros-Meza, Cardiff University, UK
Targets for public service improvement are frequently derided as heavy-handed, top-down mechanisms that have dysfunctional and potentially disastrous effects on organizational behaviour. Yet, there is growing statistical evidence to suggest that targets can actually prompt public organizations to deliver improved service quality and responsiveness. While much of this research on targets has focused on relatively narrow public service outcomes, such as hospital waiting times or examination results, Continue reading →