Research Briefing, December 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:

  • partnerships between non-profits and academia,
  • cross-sector collaborations for health and wellbeing,
  • public-private alliances in Smart Cities,
  • the roles of the public and private sectors in drug development,
  • applying a “paradox lens” to cross-sector collaboration,
  • collaborative innovation and public bureaucracies,
  • and “theories of change” as an evaluation framework.

Leveraging Academic Partnerships to Improve Logistics at Nonprofit Organizations,” Nonprofit Management and Leadership, Andrew S. Manikas, James R. Kroes, and Thomas F. Gattiker

Abstract:This article presents the results of a partnership between a nonprofit organization and a team of academic researchers that developed a low-cost spreadsheet-based tool that allows organizations to effectively schedule vehicle operations. Specifically, the tool (1) handles the real-world constraints present in moderately complex logistics environments; and (2) uses general computing hardware and software that is already deployed in most organizations, thereby rendering the solution radically low cost (effectively free). We deployed this tool to a humanitarian organization, the Idaho Foodbank, which realized a substantial improvement in its fleet efficiency and a corresponding reduction in route-planning time. The methodology used to manage this collaboration with academia can be leveraged by other nonprofit organizations attempting to overcome the financial barriers that commonly prevent budget-constrained organizations from accessing advanced technologies.”

Cross-Sector Collaborations And Partnerships: Essential Ingredients To Help Shape Health And Well-Being,” Health Affairs, Vivian L. Towe, Laura Leviton, Anita Chandra, Jennifer C. Sloan, Margaret Tait, and Tracy Orleans

Abstract: “Cross-sector collaborations and partnerships are an essential component of the strategy to improve health and well-being in the United States. While their importance is unquestioned, their impact on population health has not yet been fully observed. Cross-sector collaboration also is the second Action Area of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s four-part Action Framework to build a Culture of Health in the United States. This Action Area has three constituent parts or drivers: the number, breadth, and quality of successful cross-sector partnerships; the adequacy of investment in these partnerships; and the adoption of policies needed to support them. In this article we analyze outstanding examples of partnership-driven work. We also study the challenges of how partner sectors outside the formal health system, such as organizations working in the education or housing sectors, can effectively lead collaborations. We identify models of leadership that maximize the potential of all participants. We also propose the adoption of models better suited to supporting effective cross-sector collaborations. The analysis builds the evidence base for understanding and sustaining the impact of cross-sector collaboration on population health.”

How to Select the Right Public Partner in Smart City Projects,” R&D Management, Francesco Domenico Sandulli, Alberto Ferraris, and Stefano Bresciani

Abstract: “Firms that want to exploit Smart City’s opportunities need to cooperate with local governments. From a managerial point of view, there is scant research on how to select public partners in Smart City projects. In fact, while there are several cities claiming to be ‘smart’, not all cities fulfil the essential requirements for successful Smart City projects. This paper shows how to build successful public–private alliances in Smart Cities and, more specifically, how to select the right city to test, develop or sell smart technologies. This study uses a multiple-case research design and follows an exploratory and qualitative methodology. The results show that firms improve the success of their projects if they assess three main aspects of partner selection, these being partner complementarity, commitment and compatibility. The paper, therefore, provides several managerial implications regarding how firms may be more effective in selecting where to start their Smart City projects and how public organisations may become more attractive. Finally, academic implications, limitations and future lines of research are presented.”

Public- and Private-Sector Contributions to the Research and Development of the Most Transformational Drugs in the Past 25 Years: From Theory to Therapy,” Therapeutic Innovation and Regulatory Science, Ranjana Chakravarthy, Kristina Cotter, Joseph DiMasi, Christopher-Paul Milne, and Nils Wendel

“Background: With available funding from the public sector decreasing while medical needs and scientific complexity increase, private-sector collaborations with academia and government have become increasingly key in furthering medical innovation. Nonetheless, some skeptics diminish the contribution of the private sector to the discovery and development of truly innovative drugs on the one hand, while on the other hand they assert that research and development (R&D) of new medicines could and should be exclusively within control (at least financially) of the government. This begs the question, How much government funding would be needed to replace industry new drug R&D spending?

Methods: We address the respective roles of the private and public sectors in drug development by examining a diverse array of evidentiary materials on the history of 19 individual drugs, 6 drug classes, and 1 drug combination identified as the most transformative drugs in health care over the past 25 years by a survey of over 200 physicians. …

Conclusions: Our analysis indicates that industry’s contributions to the R&D of innovative drugs go beyond development and marketing and include basic and applied science, discovery technologies, and manufacturing protocols, and that without private investment in the applied sciences there would be no return on public investment in basic science.”

Developing Practice-Oriented Theory on Collaboration: A Paradox Lens,” Public Administration Review, Siv Vangen

Abstract: “Collaboration is present throughout public administration as a means to address social issues that sit in the interorganizational domain. Yet research carried out over the last three decades has concluded that collaborations are complex, slow to produce outputs, and by no means guaranteed to deliver synergies and advantage. This article explores whether a ‘paradox lens’ can aid the development of practice-oriented theory to help those who govern, lead, and manage collaborations in practice. It draws on a long-standing research program on collaboration and a synthesis of relevant literature on paradox and collaboration. The article develops five propositions on the application of a paradox lens that explicitly recognizes the context of collaboration as inherently paradoxical; acknowledges the limitations of mainstream theory in capturing adequately the complex nature of and tensions embedded in collaborative contexts; and uses the principles of paradox to develop practice-oriented theory on governing, leading, and managing collaborations.”

Managing Collaborative Innovation in Public Bureaucracies,” Planning Theory, Annika Agger and Eva Sørensen

Abstract: “Public planners are increasingly recruited to manage collaborative innovation processes, but there is hardly any research on how they deal with the tensions they encounter in managing collaborative innovation in the institutional context of a public bureaucracy. Drawing on emerging theories of collaborative planning, network management and public innovation, the article develops a taxonomy of tasks related to managing collaborative innovation, identifies potential tensions between these tasks and the institutional logic of public bureaucracies and investigates how these tensions are experienced by frontline planners who remain involved in face-to-face interaction with citizens while managing collaborative innovation processes within urban regeneration projects in Copenhagen.”

Building Collaborative Capacity through `Theories of Change’: Early Lessons from the Evaluation of Health Action Zones in England,” Evaluation, Helen Sullivan, Mariana Barnes, Elizabeth Matka

Abstract: “In the UK a great deal of attention is currently focused on the potential of the ‘theories of change’ approach to evaluating complex public policy interventions. However, there is still relatively little empirical material describing its application. This article discusses the use of ‘theories of change’ in the national evaluation of English Health Action Zones (HAZs). It locates ‘theories of change’ within the wider context of evaluation approaches and assesses its strengths and weaknesses as an evaluation framework.

The article then focuses on a key aspect of complex public policy interventions — cross-sector collaboration. Drawing on data about cross-sector partnerships and community involvement from the English HAZ evaluation, the article explores the contribution of `theories of change’ towards examining the building of collaborative capacity in HAZs.

The article also describes the `co-research’ approach being employed within the national HAZ evaluation. It discusses how this approach can complement the use of `theories of change’, contribute to managing change within organizations and communities and facilitate more effective use of evaluation within a local health context.”