Research Briefing, March 2019

blogimage_researchbriefingEach month, there is new, fascinating research emerging that provides practical insight into how the government, business, and non-profit sectors partner to address society’s most pressing problems. To keep our readers up to date on this work, which comes from a variety of academic and non-academic sources, we compile a monthly briefing and publish it on our blog — for researchers who want to stay up to date on progress in the field of cross-sector collaboration and practitioners who are interested in how this research may be applicable to their work.

This month’s briefing includes articles and reports about:

  • non-profit involvement in cogovernance,
  • collaborative governance theory and the advocacy coalition framework,
  • collective sensemaking in hybrid organizations, and
  • problem framing in public and social innovation.


Exploring the Role of Nonprofits in Public Service Provision: Moving from Coproduction to Cogovernance,” Public Administration Review, Yuan Cheng.

Abstract: “This article investigates the determinants of nonprofits’ involvement in cogovernance, or the planning and design of public services, using a unique data set of park‐supporting nonprofit organizations in large U.S. cities. The results indicate that nonprofits are more likely to get involved in cogovernance when they are younger, larger, and operate in communities that are more resourceful and stable. In addition, the likelihood of nonprofits’ involvement in cogovernance is negatively associated with the level of social capital and government capacity to provide corresponding public services. The article points to an emerging mode of government‐nonprofit collaboration that goes beyond the production and delivery of public services. As public managers face extensive challenges in sustaining the desired level of public services, these findings have important policy implications for efforts to promote citizen participation and cross‐sector solutions to complex social problems.”


Integrating Collaborative Governance Theory with the Advocacy Coalition Framework,” Journal of Public Policy, Elizabeth A. Koebele

Abstract: “As collaborative governance processes continue to grow in popularity, practitioners and policy scholars alike can benefit from the development of methods to better analyse and evaluate them. This article develops one such method by demonstrating how collaborative governance theory can be integrated with the Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF) to better explain coalition dynamics, policy-oriented learning and policy change in collaborative contexts. I offer three theoretical propositions that suggest alternate relationships among ACF variables under collaborative governance arrangements and illustrate these propositions using interview data from an original case study of a collaborative governance process in Colorado, USA. The integration of collaborative governance theory with the ACF improves its application in collaborative contexts and provides new theoretical insights into the study and practice of collaborative governance.”


‘We Are This Hybrid’: Members’ Search for Organizational Identity in an Institutionalized Public–Private Partnership,” Public Administration, Stefanie C. Reissner

Abstract: “There has been significant scholarly interest in organizational hybridity, the combination of multiple institutional logics in one entity. However, the extant research has mainly studied the implications for organizations and individuals, neglecting the challenges for organizational members as a collective. To mitigate, this article examines how members of a British institutionalized public–private partnership grapple with the question of what their organization may be, highlighting the confusion they are experiencing and their attempts to overcome it. Drawing on the concept of organizational identity (theorized as the outcome of collective sensemaking), the analysis identifies two mechanisms that recursively connect the organization and its members. Relational positioning draws on possible configurations of institutional logics and associated identity resources while discursive framing captures members’ hopes and expectations. The main contribution of this article is a better understanding of collective sensemaking in hybrid organizations in the light of institutional complexity.


Problem Framing Expertise in Public and Social Innovation,” She Ji: The Journal of Design, Economics, and Innovation, Mieke van der Bijl-Brouwer

Abstract: “Public and social sector organizations are increasingly turning to innovation as a way to address the complex problems that society is facing. Design practice has already contributed significantly to public and social innovation, but to be effective at the public and social systems level, these practices must be adapted. This study investigates how five public and social innovation agencies adapted and used the core design practice of problem framing to address complex problems in society. The frames evolved according to nonlinear patterns through the co-evolution of problem and solution spaces. Practitioners adapted their framing practices to suit the complex social contexts by applying systemic design principles, pursuing multiple solutions and problem frames, and operationalizing wider research and thinking methods that align with the complex nature of each specific challenge. I argue that such practices require high-level expertise, and that capability building in public and social innovation should consider these emerging practices and levels of expertise.”