Research Briefing, August 2015

blogimage_researchbriefingEach month, there is new, fascinating research emerging that provides practical insight into the intersector — the space where collaboration among government, business, and non-profit sectors enables leaders to share expertise, resources, and authority to address society’s most pressing problems. To keep our readers up to date, we compile a monthly briefing that captures the newest research in cross-sector collaboration and publish it on our blog, with a focus on practitioners, who may be interested in the research, but lack the time or resources to extract takeaways that are truly meaningful to their work.

This month’s briefing includes articles about:

  • collaborative governance in environmental policy,
  • food policy councils,
  • product development partnerships,
  • connecting public health and transportation planning,
  • emergency management collaborations,
  • social entrepreneurship, and more.

Explaining coordination in collaborative partnerships and clarifying the scope of the belief homophily hypothesis,” Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory
Abstract: The move towards collaborative governance in environmental policy often takes the form of collaborative partnerships involving multiple stakeholders with divergent beliefs and interests. Within such partnerships, stakeholders selectively coordinate with one another to varying degrees to achieve both individual and shared objectives. Using interview and questionnaire data from 10 U.S. marine aquaculture partnerships in 2009–2011, we test three theoretical hypotheses regarding how individuals within collaborative partnerships decide with whom to coordinate. These competing propositions include belief homophily (individuals will coordinate with whom they share beliefs), trust (individuals will coordinate with those whom they trust), and resources (individuals will coordinate with those who hold critical resources). Results suggest that specific aspects of trust and resources are more important than shared beliefs in driving coordination in marine aquaculture partnerships. This finding qualifies previous studies that identified shared beliefs as a driving factor. This study concludes with a theoretical discussion about the explanatory boundaries of belief homophily.

How policy rules shape the structure and performance of collaborative governance arrangements,” Public Administration Review
Abstract: Local food system governance increasingly occurs in collaborative venues at the local, state, and regional levels. Prominent examples of such are food policy councils (FPCs). FPCs take a systemic approach to improve local food systems by including diverse stakeholders to advise on policy development. The authors study public FPCs to understand how policies structure the stakeholder composition and goals of FPCs and how FPCs’ stakeholder composition facilitates and/or impedes performance. Data come from a content analysis of policies that mandate the structure and functions of public FPCs and interviews with FPC representatives. Findings indicate that FPCs connected to a broader array of food policy actors in their communities produce more diverse policy outputs, but this outcome is tempered by whether council members represent personal or organizational interests.

How does collaborative governance scale?Policy & Politics
Abstract: Scale is an overlooked issue in the literature on interactive governance. This special issue investigates the challenges posed by the scale and scaling of network and collaborative forms of governance. Our original motivation arose from a concern about whether collaborative governance can scale up. As we learned more, our inquiry expanded to include the tensions inherent in collaboration across scales or at multiple scales and the issue of dynamically scaling collaboration to adapt to changing problems and demands. The diverse cases in this special issue explore these challenges in a range of concrete empirical domains than span the globe.

Can medical products be developed on a non-profit basis? Exploring product development partnerships for neglected diseases,” International Review of Administrative Sciences Science and Public Policy
Abstract: Reliance on market forces can lead to underinvestment in social welfare enhancing innovation. The lack of new medical products in the area of neglected diseases is a case in point. R&D for neglected diseases has increased with new funding and collaborations taking place mainly through product development partnerships (PDPs). PDPs are self-governing, private non-profit R&D organizations. In contrast to push and pull instruments designed to address private-sector R&D underinvestment, PDPs have emerged voluntarily to address this public health challenge. In this study we examine how non-profit R&D collaboration for neglected diseases takes place through PDPs. We find that PDPs act as “system integrators” that leverage the resources and capabilities of a network of public, philanthropic, and private-sector partners. This paper contributes to an understanding of R&D in a non-profit context and highlights the importance of collaboration and non-market institutions for promoting innovation where market failures occur.

Exploring opportunities for engaging public health organizations in transportation planning,” Public Works Management Policy
Abstract: Despite a call for collaboration, there remain challenges to engaging the public health community in the regional transportation planning process. Using an integrated framework of network theory and collaborative planning, we explore collaboration barriers and opportunities between transportation and public health communities. Analysis of primary data collected from a focus group and secondary data from 43 national case studies suggests that major perceived barriers include a lack of formal and informal mechanisms and knowledge management practices that facilitate collaboration. Coordination of policies at multiple levels, leadership, trust, and data sharing are recognized as important tools for collaboration. Implications are discussed.

Social capital and emergency management planning: a test of community context effects on formal and informal collaboration,” The American Review of Public Administration
Abstract: Using a sample of U.S. counties, this article explores the relationships between community level resilience, represented by capacity (social capital), information (uses of technology), and motivation (perception of threats to county,) on the one hand, and county levels of emergency management (EM) collaboration on the other. We hypothesize that the greater relative presence of bridging social capital networks will be associated with greater levels of collaboration in county EM planning, while the greater relative presence of bonding social capital networks will be associated with lower levels of collaboration. Results indicate that first there are two collaborative environments to assess — the formal and informal — and, second, the presence of political networks (seen as predominantly bridging) relative to the presence of religious networks (viewed as predominantly bonding) has a significant and positive effect on informal collaboration levels, but not on formal collaboration levels. These findings provide insight into how community context in the form of network social capital matters for collaborative EM planning efforts. These results add to prior research that focuses primarily on organizational and institutional sources of collaboration and much less on the community level contextual factors at play.

Bridging academic and practitioner interests on interlocal collaboration: Seasoned managers share their experiences in Florida,” State and Local Government Review
Abstract: Academic interest in local government collaboration is well documented. This article bridges that interest with practitioner preferences in a survey to a dozen experienced city and county managers in Florida on their experience in forging local government collaboration. The results showed that most formal collaboration agreements involved sharing facilities and most informal collaboration agreements involved sharing equipment. Moreover, none of these local managers felt that federal or state mandates had any impact on their agencies decision to enter into collaborative agreements and the managers did not evince a general agreement on either the process to follow to initiate or to evaluate interlocal agreements.

Analyzing policy networks using valued exponential random graph models: Do government-sponsored collaborative groups enhance organizational networks?,” Policy Studies Journal
Abstract: This paper examines collaborative management groups from the perspective of policymakers seeking to increase coordination within a policy network. While governments often support collaborative groups as a tool to address perceived network failures such as a lack of coordination, the net impact groups have is unclear. I use valued exponential random graph models (ERGMs) to model relationships of varying strength among a regional network of organizations involved in 57 collaborative groups. This provides a unique opportunity to study the interplay between numerous groups and organizations within a large-scale network. Valued ERGMs are a recently developed extension of standard ERGMs that model valued instead of binary ties; thus, this paper also makes a methodological contribution to the policy literature. Findings suggest that participation in collaborative groups does motivate coordination and cooperation amongst individual network organizations; however, this effect is strongest for: (i) organizations that are not already members of another group and (ii) organizations that do not have a preexisting tie. These results support a transaction-cost–based perspective of how government-sponsored collaborative groups can influence network coordination; further, they also provide an empirical example of the Ecology of Games, in which multiple collaborative institutions have interactive effects on one another within a policy network.

Social innovation and social entrepreneurship: a systematic review,” Group Organization Management
Abstract: Corporate social responsibility (CSR) literature suggests CSR initiatives extend beyond meeting the immediate interests of stakeholders of for-profit enterprises, offering the potential to also enhance performance. Growing disillusionment of for-profit business models has drawn attention to social entrepreneurship and social innovation to ease social issues. Adopting a systematic review of relevant research, the article provides collective insights into research linking social innovation with social entrepreneurship, demonstrating growing interest in the area over the last decade. The past 5 years have seen a surge in attention with particular focus on the role of the entrepreneur, networks, systems, institutions, and cross-sectoral partnerships. Based on the findings of the review, the authors synthesize formerly dispersed fields of research into an analytical framework, signposting a “systems of innovation” approach for future studies of social innovation and social entrepreneurship.