Collaborative Governance

Collaborative Governance: A new era of public policy in Australia?

Janine O’Flynn
John Wanna
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: ANU Press
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  • Book Info
    Collaborative Governance
    Book Description:

    Collaboration has emerged as a central concept in public policy circles in Australia and a panacea to the complex challenges facing Australia. But is this really the cure-all it seems to be? In this edited collection we present scholarly and practitioner perspectives on the drivers, challenges, prospects and promise of collaboration. The papers, first presented at the 2007 ANZSOG Conference, draw on the extensive experience of the contributors in either trying to enact collaboration, or studying the processes of this phenomenon. Together the collection provides important insights into the potential of collaboration, but also the fiercely stubborn barriers to adopting more collaborative approaches to policy and implementation. The collection includes chapter from public servants, third sector managers, and both Australian and international academics which together make it a stimulating read for those working with or within government. It adds considerably to the debate about how to address current challenges of public policy and provides a significant resource for those interested in the realities of collaborative governance.

    eISBN: 978-1-921536-41-0
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Contributors
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Allan Fels
  5. Editors’ introduction
    (pp. xv-xvi)
    Janine O’Flynn and John Wanna

    In this monograph, we present a collection of papers from the ANZSOG conference on collaboration held in 2007. We have been able to draw on a range of perspectives—practitioner and scholarly—to offer a collection focused on the issue of collaborative governance in Australia. Our contributors consider the drivers, challenges, prospects and promises of collaboration, from a conceptual and a practical perspective. We believe this provides a rich resource for readers who are interested in the issue of collaboration in the public sector, and more specifically in public policy.

    Throughout the monograph, our contributors draw on their personal experience,...

  6. Part 1. Setting the scene:: challenges and prospects for collaboration
    • 1. Collaborative government: meanings, dimensions, drivers and outcomes
      (pp. 3-12)
      John Wanna

      Collaboration means joint working or working in conjunction with others. It implies actors—individuals, groups or organisations—cooperating in some endeavour. The participants are ‘co-labouring’ with others on terms and conditions that, as we know, can vary enormously. The word ‘collaboration’ originally came into use in the nineteenth century as industrialisation developed, more complex organisations emerged and the division of labour and tasks increased. It was a fundamental norm of utilitarianism, social liberalism, collectivism, mutual aid and, later, scientific management and human relations organisational theory.¹ Explanations of collaboration could stress the descriptive/pragmatic side focusing on the practical realities of working...

    • 2. Governing through collaboration
      (pp. 13-22)
      Peter Shergold

      There are new and exciting changes occurring in the processes of governance, which have profound implications for public services. The provision of policy advice is becoming more contested. The views of officials now compete with those of political advisers, advocacy organisations and policy think tanks. The implementation of policy is increasingly contracted out and delivered through third parties, with the Public Service taking responsibility for oversight, evaluation and accountability.

      At the same time—and significantly extending these developments—broader networks of policy influence are emerging. They demand new ways of doing things and new forms of leadership behaviour. At the...

    • 3. The changing nature of government: network governance
      (pp. 23-28)
      William D. Eggers

      Governing by network is at the heart of numerous major Australian Federal Government initiatives.

      In the twentieth century, hierarchical government bureaucracy was the predominant organisational model used to deliver public services and fulfil public-policy goals. Public managers won acclaim by ordering those under them to accomplish highly routine—albeit professional—tasks with uniformity but without discretion. Today, increasingly complex societies force public officials to develop new governance models.

      In many ways, twenty-first-century challenges and the methods of addressing them are more numerous and complex than ever. Problems have become both more global and more local as power disperses and boundaries...

    • 4. Doing Things Collaboratively: Realizing the Advantage or Succumbing to Inertia?
      (pp. 29-44)
      Chris Huxham and Siv Vangen

      Not everyone who works daily in collaborative alliances, partnerships or networks reports such negative experiences as those quoted above. Indeed the Financial Times (24 June 2003, p. 14) reports a Nokia executive as saying that their linkages are paying off. Others talk similarly enthusiastically about their partnership experiences:

      When it works well you feel inspired ... you can feel the collaborative energy.

      However, very many do express frustration. There has been much rhetoric about the value of strategic alliances, industry networks, public service delivery partnerships and many other collaborative forms, but reports of unmitigated success are not common. In this...

    • 5. Hit or myth? Stories of collaborative success
      (pp. 45-50)
      Chris Huxham and Paul Hibbert

      Partnering is notoriously difficult; success rates as low as 20 per cent are often quoted. So, is success achievable or are the benefits to be gained from partnering just a myth?

      What does ‘success’ mean in partnerships, alliances and other collaborative ventures? The answer might not be as straightforward as you expect. We talked to partnership managers and their colleagues about the collaborations that they were pleased with. Naturally, they were concerned to tell us that they had achieved the objectives that they and their partners had jointly agreed to pursue. Their stories also told of other types of achievement;...

    • 6. Collaborative governance: the community sector and collaborative network governance
      (pp. 51-58)
      Paul Smyth

      This chapter presents a view of the potential role of the community sector in the emerging forms of social governance within Australia’s social-policy regime. This regime is currently in a state of transition and contest and the view here is based on an understanding that before looking at the nuts and bolts of collaboration it is essential to ask the question ‘collaboration for what?’. As writers such as Newman (2004) indicate, it is not at all clear what direction the mooted transition from hierarchical and market to network forms of governance will take in different countries (see Considine 2001). Hess...

  7. Part 2. The reality of collaboration:: success, failure, challenges and questions
    • 7. What works and why: collaborating in a crisis
      (pp. 61-66)
      Shane Carmody

      The fundamental premise of this chapter derives from my experience as a practitioner of cross-government collaboration. We must seek ways to improve the processes of governing through collaboration if we want to successfully manage crises. To do so we need to be more effective in managing others and in making maximum use of their individual capacities to deal with the common threat or crisis situation. The lessons from crises involving the Federal Government, statutory organisations, emergency authorities, other governments and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are that effective leadership is essential, as are clear identification of responsibilities and effective implementation of decisions....

    • 8. Collaboration in education
      (pp. 67-74)
      Rachel Hunter

      Australia’s education and training system is founded on multiple models of collaboration. In Queensland, we collaborate with three school sectors (state, Catholic and independent), three education sectors (schools, vocational education and training and higher education), seven other states and territories, the Commonwealth Government, innumerable statutory authorities, local government, communities, parents, students, industry and, importantly, our workforce and their industrial representatives.

      The Queensland Department of Education, Training and the Arts (DETA) was formed in September 2006 and is Queensland’s largest government agency. DETA employs more than 62 000 full-time staff and supports almost one million students in state and non-state schools...

    • 9. From collaboration to coercion: a story of governance failure, success and opportunity in Australian Indigenous affairs
      (pp. 75-92)
      Diane Smith

      In late June 2007, I was at the South Alligator River in Kakadu National Park attending a meeting of Indigenous leaders from local government councils and resource organisations representing communities throughout West Arnhem Land and the town of Jabiru in the Northern Territory (NT). They were meeting, as they had done regularly for the past three years, to plan the implementation of a local government shire covering the entire region of West Arnhem and Jabiru. Also present were senior officers from the NT and Federal Governments, who, under a bilateral agreement signed between the two governments in 2005, have been...

    • 10. The PPP phenomenon: performance and governance insights
      (pp. 93-112)
      Graeme Hodge and Carsten Greve

      Public–private partnerships (PPPs) have now attracted wide interest around the world. Few people, however, agree on what a PPP really is. While they are hailed as a new collaborative way to get the best of both sectors, the definition of PPPs remains cloudy, and performance assessments are hotly disputed. This chapter presents an academic examination of this form of collaboration and looks at the global evidence of performance. It articulates just what is new in Australia’s PPPs and suggests governance reforms are needed in order to overcome the legitimacy concerns of citizens and parliaments.

      The public–private debate has...

    • 11. Perspectives of community organisations: The Smith Family experience
      (pp. 113-120)
      Elaine Henry

      In the past decade, governments have chosen to transfer the delivery of services and policy provision from the public sector to the non-government sector, involving private firms, community organisations and a range of non-governmental organisations (NGOs). For governments, this process of devolving implementation to the non-government sector has many advantages: it allows them to focus on policy formulation and core policy issues, while delivering services for pre-stipulated costs, allowing customisation of services and better quality assurance. For the non-government sector, this transfer of responsibilities places considerable strain on those organisations and the staff they employ or volunteers on whom they...

    • 12. Collaborative approaches to ‘people-based’ and ‘place-based’ issues in Victoria
      (pp. 121-126)
      Jane Treadwell

      This chapter explores specific examples of collaborative approaches within the community sector, addressing issues within the broader context of the ‘people-based’ and ‘place-based’ approaches that the Department for Victorian Communities (DVC) has championed.² It goes on to reflect more broadly on the principles that have underpinned a successful approach to changing the way government works.

      Family violence is a major social problem in the community. It does not involve just two people, but affects the entire family, sometimes over generations. Family violence is the leading contributor to preventable death, disability and illness in Victorian women between 15 and 44 years...

    • 13. Formal collaboration, collaborative councils and community engagement
      (pp. 127-136)
      Margaret Allison

      This chapter examines the important role local government can play in the delivery of community outcomes through collaboration. It provides some examples from my own jurisdiction that illustrate the range of projects and outcomes achieved through collaboration (with a particular focus on customer and community services), and suggests some future options and possibilities for collaboration.

      My central thesis is that collaboration is not merely a desirable mode of operation for local government; rather, it is fundamental to its capacity to deliver desired value for its constituents. This is especially so in Australia, where, as in many countries with federal systems...

    • 14. Collaborative democracy: the citizen’s ability to collaborate effectively
      (pp. 137-146)
      Louise Sylvan

      Collaboration between a government and its people—not just in service delivery—is one of the most fertile areas for creating potentially successful outcomes for a society, but it remains one of the most challenging of tasks as well. Almost as challenging are collaborations between government agencies themselves.

      This chapter examines some of the aspects of collaborating—the active form of the word is important given what the purposes of collaborations are—from two distinct perspectives. The first derives from a variety of experiences as a former consumer/community advocate and campaigner interacting with a number of government agencies and will...

  8. Part 3. Collaboration abroad:: comparative perspectives
    • 15. Galvanising government–non-profit/voluntary sector relations: two Canadian cases to consider
      (pp. 149-170)
      Evert Lindquist

      This volume and the June 2007 conference on which it is based explore how collaboration can be fostered in diverse governance contexts and modes: in different policy sectors, with different types of partners and at different levels of analysis (local, state, national and international). Where collaboration with non-profit organisations was concerned, one conference panel considered intriguing collaborations between governments and local communities (for example, Eggers on the Golden Gate regional district; the Victoria Communities initiative; the Cape York initiative with Westpac, and so on), while others examined special-purpose partnerships with non-profit or charitable organisations. This chapter takes a different tack:...

    • 16. Collaboration with the third sector: UK perspectives
      (pp. 171-178)
      Ben Jupp

      Collaboration or partnership with the private sector and the not-for-profit sector (referred to in the United Kingdom as the ‘third sector’) started to become a theme for the UK Government from the mid-1990s. As with many ideas, the hype exceeded the reality for some time. By the late 1990s, however, everyone in UK policymaking was talking about partnership. It was in a way analogous to the ‘’ hype that reached a peak about the turn of the century. Partnerships proliferated at the national and local levels. The answer to every social problem seemed to be moving towards ‘joining up’ thinking,...

  9. Part 4. Collaboration:: rhetoric and reality
    • 17. Elusive appeal or aspirational ideal? The rhetoric and reality of the ‘collaborative turn’ in public policy
      (pp. 181-196)
      Janine O’Flynn

      Apparently, there has been a ‘collaborative turn’ in public-policy circles. We have been informed that governments around the world must develop capabilities to be in a state of ‘perpetual collaboration’ if they are to competently face the looming challenges of the twenty-first century (Cortada et al. 2008), and that ‘the future belongs to those who collaborate’ (Economist Intelligence Unit 2007:4). The collaborative ‘buzz’ surrounding government (Wanna 2007) was even to be heard at the Australian Government’s 2020 Summit in April 2008, at which the notion of collaborative governance was elevated as a ‘top idea’ that could propel the nation through...

    • 18. Postscript
      (pp. 197-202)
      Peter Shergold

      Time moves on. Governments change. Mandarins depart (although, speaking personally, the second and third sentence are unrelated). I have had collected my Cabinet-in-Confidence files, handed back my parliamentary pass and said my fond valedictories to the Australian Public Service. In February 2008, at the end of my contract, I left. I had spent two decades as a public servant.

      I have moved on (some would say, forward). I have returned to academia, taking up a position as the inaugural Professor of the Centre for Social Impact (CSI). CSI is a bold cross-university partnership between the business schools of the Swinburne...