“This dissertation is an exploration of collaborative governance in municipal public administration, and the elements that successful collaborations have in common. For this dissertation, the term ‘successful’ means objectives sought after were achieved. As a foundational underpinning of this dissertation, I define collaborative governance as, ‘a form of multi-sectoral problem solving that brings together multiple stakeholders from different sectors to do what one sector cannot do on its own’ (Pirnejad, 2016). This type of governance is a careful and deliberate process of collaborative problem solving and implementation, attempting to co-create meaningful and sustainable solutions too complex, and considered ‘wicked’ civic problems (Rittel, 1973). Wicked problems, in short, are complex problems that go beyond the capacity of any one organization to define or solve; they lend themselves to a process of collaboration among varied stakeholders in multiple sectors.
Further, this dissertation provides a historical perspective of how all four sectors — public, private, nonprofit and citizen — have become more receptive to multi-sectoral collaborations to achieve their goals. I describe how these four sectors align over time, being pre-disposed to this type of partnerships. I utilize current examples and profile extensively about developing advances in technology that are facilitating a growing interest in collaborative governance.
This research stems from four formative research papers in the area of collaborative governance. These include the seminal work of Crosby and Bryson (2005), Thomson and Perry (2006), Ansell and Gash (2007) and Emerson, Nabatchi, and Balogh (2011). Those theoretical models, integrated with the benefit of my professional experience, are the impetus behind my collaborative governance framework. The defense of this framework uses academic sources and professional experience. Said compilation of elements and models, I contend, contribute to successful multi-sector collaborations.
Using a survey I designed around the four dimensions of my collaborative governance framework, I look for patterns and frequency in the responses. The survey was administered to award-winning, multi-sector collaborations throughout the nation (as defined in the Methods Chapter). The results converted into a 0-4-point standard format, reviewed for general trends, and organized into tables highlighting the frequency of like responses. Finally, this study offers contributions to the practice of public administration by leveraging my professional experience against my academic explorations and survey findings. The primary deliverables of my work are survey analysis and professional contributions to the practice of public administration.
By highlighting areas of my collaborative governance framework, I hope other successful public sector collaborations can learn from these patterns, and apply them to future multi-sectoral partnerships. My hope is this analysis will not only stress the importance of collaborative governance, but also, offer practical suggestions for pursuing this partnership form going forward.”