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Collaborative Governance

Collaborative Governance: Private Roles for Public Goals in Turbulent Times

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Collaborative Governance
    Book Description:

    All too often government lacks the skill, the will, and the wallet to meet its missions. Schools fall short of the mark while roads and bridges fall into disrepair. Health care costs too much and delivers too little. Budgets bleed red ink as the cost of services citizens want outstrips the taxes they are willing to pay.Collaborative Governanceis the first book to offer solutions by demonstrating how government at every level can engage the private sector to overcome seemingly insurmountable problems and achieve public goals more effectively.

    John Donahue and Richard Zeckhauser show how the public sector can harness private expertise to bolster productivity, capture information, and augment resources. The authors explain how private engagement in public missions--rightly structured and skillfully managed--is not so much an alternative to government as the way smart government ought to operate. The key is to carefully and strategically grant discretion to private entities, whether for-profit or nonprofit, in ways that simultaneously motivate and empower them to create public value. Drawing on a host of real-world examples-including charter schools, job training, and the resurrection of New York's Central Park--they show how, when, and why collaboration works, and also under what circumstances it doesn't.

    Collaborative Governancereveals how the collaborative approach can be used to tap the resourcefulness and entrepreneurship of the private sector, and improvise fresh, flexible solutions to today's most pressing public challenges.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-3810-3
    Subjects: Finance, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    Stephen Breyer

    Americans are pragmatic. They recognize that the goods and services they seek will likely be supplied (1) by private firms operating in free markets, (2) by firms that are heavily regulated by government, or (3) by government itself. They debate the comparative merits (or the appropriate mix) of these three basic delivery systems—often on ideological grounds. Yet even as they do so, they pragmatically seek systematic ways to improve the performance of each.

    Thus, over the course of a century or more, government agencies and the courts have developed and applied rules of antitrust law in order to help...

  4. Part I The Promise and Problems of Collaboration

    • Chapter 1 Private Roles for Public Goals
      (pp. 3-26)

      We live in turbulent times. No doubt it always seems so, but as the twenty-first century hits its stride the gauge of stress and tumult seems well above par. The global economy is wobbling; housing prices have boomed and busted; jobs have evaporated; retirement funds have shriveled; iconic financial institutions stagger from bankruptcy to bailout. And these are just the moment’s problems. Looking ahead—and not all that far ahead—we face massive challenges: finding ways to power the economy without fouling the planet, fulfilling the pledge of affordable health care for all, and securing the future of Social Security....

    • Chapter 2 Rationales and Reservations
      (pp. 27-44)

      Government has a great many things to do (an extra-long list for liberals, but a not-so-short list for candid libertarians too) and lots of ways—including collaboration—of getting those things done. Picking the right delivery model for each public mission is a crucial prerequisite to effective performance. There is little reason to believe that we are systematically selecting the right mix and pattern of delivery models. The public sector in the United States, for example, spends heavily both on primary and secondary education and on medical care. Government directly delivers most of the education it pays for, but only...

    • Chapter 3 The Delegator’s Dilemma
      (pp. 45-60)

      Shared discretion is the defining feature of collaborative governance. If one side makes all the decisions, a public-private relationship is a contract, not a collaboration. The crucial question concerns justhowdiscretion is shared. How this question is answered shapes the effectiveness, the legitimacy, and the managerial difficulty of establishing and maintaining a collaborative effort. Creating public value by capitalizing on private capacity requires the careful balancing of the benefits and costs of discretion in order to maximize the net advantage of collaborating relative to what government could achieve on its own. Neither the theory behind such balancing nor the...

  5. Part II Rationales—More, Better, or Both

    • Chapter 4 Collaboration for Productivity
      (pp. 63-103)

      Private organizations, as a group, tend to outclass public organizations in operational efficiency. This observation implies neither contempt for government nor infatuation with the private sector. The two sectors simply have different strengths. Most private organizations have to compete to survive, whether they are nonprofits seeking contributions or for-profits seeking net revenue. A key dimension of that competition is usually prowess at transforming resources into results. In a robustly competitive market, inefficiency invites extinction. Government agencies have their own pressures, to be sure, but these include imperatives for transparency, due process, and evenhandedness, frequently at the expense of maximum productivity.¹...

    • Chapter 5 Collaboration for Information
      (pp. 104-121)

      Bring the knowledgeable party into the tent. That is the generic argument for collaborations motivated by information. When government lacks information essential to the accomplishment of a public mission—and private actors possess it—collaboration is an imperative, not an option. To go it alone is to travel blind. This is not so, of course, if government can easily acquire the necessary information. But vital data sometimes cannot be obtained with reasonable speed, at reasonable cost, and with reasonable reliability. The private sector may, for reasons good or bad, refuse to divulge everything it knows. Or information may be so...

    • Chapter 6 Collaboration for Legitimacy
      (pp. 122-155)

      Colin Powell has a deep appreciation of the concept of a “force multiplier.” In military usage this term (which we invoked fleetingly in chapter 1) is any capability—whether technological, organizational, or managerial—that augments the effectiveness of a military unit. As chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff , Powell was an enthusiastic and effective advocate of force multipliers—battlefield computers, precision-guided munitions, and night-vision technology, among others—and employed them to drive Iraq out of Kuwait in the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

      But Powell extended the concept beyond the battlefield. In his subsequent civilian role as secretary...

    • Chapter 7 Collaboration for Resources
      (pp. 156-204)

      Once a trash-strewn, crime-ridden wasteland, Central Park underwent a remarkable renaissance as a welcoming oasis. Its famed Literary Walk exemplifies the park’s elegant and harmonious blend of nature and art. Today, in any but the least clement weather, at almost any hour, New Yorkers and tourists alike can be found strolling among the carved-stone literary greats beneath the arching elms. But not so long ago Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott and their granite comrades mostly sat lonely and graffiti-scarred, wind-whipped litter piling up against their pedestals. Things have changed in Central Park over recent decades, very much for the...

  6. Part III The Art of Collaboration

    • Chapter 8 Tasks and Tools
      (pp. 207-239)

      The workaday term “tools” in this chapter’s title signals the primacy of the practical aspects of collaboration. Good practice—getting public work done well—is the whole point. The tools metaphor, though, should not suggest that collaboration requires only rote competencies akin to driving a screw or finishing wood on a lathe. Such skills are readily honed because feedback is immediate, results are readily apparent, and the task is often repeated. In those sorts of contexts, tools are quickly mastered.

      The skills required for public-private collaboration are a different matter entirely. Many collaborations are one-time-only undertakings for the public party,...

    • Chapter 9 Getting Collaboration Right
      (pp. 240-263)

      The performance of America’s government depends on its ability to engage private players to accomplish public work. The motivating theme for this volume is not unique to the contemporary United States. But it applies more vividly to our market-friendly country than it does to most other polities. And it is likely to hold with special force over the next few decades as the nature and scale of foreseeable public problems preclude solution by government acting alone. Government’s reliance on private collaborators affects its odds for success on any given issue, conditions the ways it is prone to fail, and implies...

    • Chapter 10 Forging the Future: Payoffs and Perils
      (pp. 264-288)

      We began chapter 1 marveling at the transformation of New York’s Central Park, and the emergence of Chicago’s festive Millennium Park out of a tattered tract of abandoned rail yard. You already know now how savvy public managers and an inspired private conservancy rescued Central Park from the blight that had descended upon it. How Chicago collaborated to create Millennium Park is a different tale and one worth telling.

      Chicago, that most pragmatic and least sentimental of great American cities, has a soft spot for scenery. Citizens especially cherish the Lake Michigan shoreline. Downtown’s dense forest of skyscrapers stops dead...

    (pp. 289-290)
    John D. Donahue and Richard J. Zeckhauser
  8. INDEX
    (pp. 291-305)