Research Briefing, August 2016

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, 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 about:

  • articulating collaborative advantage,
  • collaborative policy innovation,
  • the current legal framework for collaborative governance in the United States,
  • cross-sector collaboration for school nutrition and physical education programs,
  • the definition of P3 success,
  • and philanthropic support of national parks.


Discovering Collaborative Advantage: The Contributions of Goal Categories and Visual Strategy Mapping,” Public Administration Review, John M. Bryson, Fran Ackermann, and Colin Eden

Abstract: “Collaboration can make sense when there is some sort of ‘collaborative advantage’ to be gained, meaning organizations can achieve something together that they cannot easily achieve by themselves. However, the literature is essentially silent on how to identify collaborative advantage. This article addresses this shortcoming in the theory of collaborative advantage for public purposes by proposing a set of goal categories that may be used to help articulate collaborative advantage and introducing the use of visual strategy mapping as part of a facilitated group process to figure out what the collaborative advantage might be. Collaborative advantage, as it is normally understood, consists of shared core goals. Collaborative advantage for public purposes should take into account public values beyond shared core goals.”

Strengthening Political Leadership and Policy Innovation Through the Expansion of Collaborative Forms of Governance,” Public Management Review, Jacob Torfing and Christopher Ansell

Abstract: “This article explores how political leadership and policy innovation can be enhanced through collaborative governance. The main findings are that while wicked and unruly problems create an urgent need for policy innovation, politicians are badly positioned to initiate, drive, and lead this innovation. They are either locked into a dependency on policy advice from senior civil servants or locked out of more inclusive policy networks. In either case, they are insulated from fresh ideas and ultimately reduced to ‘policy-takers’ with limited engagement in policy innovation. Collaborative policy innovation offers a solution to these limitations.”

Collaborative Governance: Integrating Management, Politics, and Law,” Public Administration Review, Lisa Blomgren Amsler

Abstract: “Scholars have engaged in an ongoing dialogue about the relationships among management, politics, and law in public administration. Collaborative governance presents new challenges to this dynamic. While scholars have made substantial contributions to our understanding of the design and practice of collaborative governance, others suggest that we lack theory for this emerging body of research. Law is often omitted as a variable. Scholarship generally does not explicitly include collaboration as a public value. This article addresses the dialogue on management, politics, and law with regard to collaborative governance. It provides an overview of the current legal framework for collaborative governance in the United States at the federal, state, and local levels of government and identifies gaps. The institutional analysis and development framework provides a body of theory that incorporates rules and law into research design. The article concludes that future research on collaborative governance should incorporate the legal framework as an important variable and collaboration as a public value.”

State-Level Trends and Correlates for Cross-Sector Collaboration on School Nutrition and Physical Education Activities, 2000–2012,” Preventing Chronic Disease, Jennifer E. Pelletier, PhD, MPH; Melissa N. Laska, PhD, RD; Richard MacLehose, PhD; Toben F. Nelson, ScD; Marilyn S. Nanney, PhD, MPH, RD

Introduction: “Cross-sector collaboration on child obesity prevention is common, yet little research has examined the context of collaboration at the state level. This study describes secular trends in collaboration between state agency staff responsible for school nutrition and physical education activities and other organizations from 2000 to 2012.”

Methods: “Data from the School Health Policies and Practices Study were used to describe collaboration between state agency staff and 13 types of public, private, and non-profit organizations. Breadth of collaboration in 2012 was examined across political, social, and economic conditions.”

Results: “Collaboration between state agency staff and other organization types increased from 2000 to 2006 and decreased or stabilized from 2006 to 2012. Breadth of collaboration was greater in states with a physical education coordinator, higher levels of poverty, higher prevalence of childhood obesity, and more public health funding. Breadth was similar across states by census region, political party of governor, majority party in state legislature, percentage non-Hispanic white population, high school graduation rate, and unemployment rate.”

Conclusion: “Cross-sector collaboration on school nutrition and physical education was widespread and did not vary substantially across most political, social, and economic measures. Expanded monitoring and surveillance of state-level collaboration would assist efforts to understand how state agencies work across sectors and whether this collaboration affects the support they provide to schools.”

On Public–Private Partnership Performance: A Contemporary Review,” Public Works Management & Policy, Graeme A. Hodge and Carsten Greve

Abstract: “Private finance-based infrastructure public–private partnerships (P3s) are globally popular, including renewed interest in the United States, but their performance remains contested. This article explores the meaning of P3 and the notion of P3 success, and points to multiple interpretations of both. It proposes a new conceptual model of the P3 phenomenon, including five levels of meaning: project, delivery method, policy, governance tool, and cultural context. Numerous criteria exist on which the success of P3 might be judged. These are as oriented toward politics and governance as they are toward more traditional utilitarian policy goals concerned with project delivery, or value for money (VfM). Indeed, governments have dozens of different goals in mind. Given mixed international results to date for VfM, it is posited that to the extent that infrastructure P3s continue to show popularity, governments may stress P3 success more on the basis of political and governance strengths, than utilitarian characteristics.”

Philanthropic Support of National Parks Analysis Using the Social-Ecological Systems Framework,” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Tracy Yandle, Douglas S. Noonan, and Beth Gazley

Abstract: “Ostrom’s social-ecological systems (SES) framework infrequently has been applied to civil society research. But its focus on collective action may help explain why some national parks are more successful at attracting philanthropic resources to supplement stagnant public funding. We examine two types of charitable supporting organizations: “Friends of” Groups (FOGs), which typically emphasize fundraising, and Cooperating Associations (CAs), which typically emphasize visitor support. We identify their partnership patterns across more than 300 national park units. Our findings suggest that FOGs and CAs fill different niches. CAs are drawn to more popular parks or memorials, and FOGs are found in parks with smaller budgets or offering fewer activities. Actor characteristics play a secondary role in explaining nonprofit incidence. The holistic approach of the SES perspective demonstrates the importance of connecting resource systems to institutional settings and actor attributes.”