Research Briefing, December 2018

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:

  • data driven social partnerships,
  • business-nonprofit engagement in sustainability-oriented innovation,
  • public managers collaborating beyond their comfort zones,
  • a transdisciplinary approach to address health disparities for vulnerable communities, and
  • different approaches to social impact bonds.

Data Driven Social Partnerships: Exploring an Emergent Trend in Search of Research Challenges and Questions,” Government Information Quarterly, Iryna Susha, Åke Grönlund, and Rob Van Tulder

Abstract: “The volume of data collected by multiple devices, such as mobile phones, sensors, satellites, is growing at an exponential rate. Accessing and aggregating different sources of data, including data outside the public domain, has the potential to provide insights for many societal challenges. This catalyzes new forms of partnerships between public, private, and nongovernmental actors aimed at leveraging different sources of data for positive societal impact and the public good. In practice there are different terms in use to label these partnerships but research has been lagging behind in systematically examining this trend. In this paper, we deconstruct the conceptualization and examine the characteristics of this emerging phenomenon by systematically reviewing academic and practitioner literature. To do so, we use the grounded theory literature review method. We identify several concepts which are used to describe this phenomenon and propose an integrative definition of ‘data driven social partnerships’ based on them. We also identify a list of challenges which data driven social partnerships face and explore the most urgent and most cited ones, thereby proposing a research agenda. Finally, we discuss the main contributions of this emerging research field, in relation to the challenges, and systematize the knowledge base about this phenomenon for the research community.”

Business-Nonprofit Engagement in Sustainability-Oriented Innovation: What Works for Whom and Why?,” Journal of Business Research, Rosina Watson, Hugh N. Wilson, and Emma K. Macdonald

Abstract: “Sustainability-oriented innovation (SOI) involves changing products, processes, organizations and wider systems to deliver environmental, social and economic value. Nonprofit organizations can contribute the external knowledge required for SOI; however, businesses can find it difficult to engage with nonprofits due to their contrasting institutional logics. This article explores what works in these partnerships. Findings from five case studies of SOI projects involving business-nonprofit engagement are synthesized into a context-intervention-mechanism-outcome (CIMO)-logic framework. Value outcomes occur through three mechanisms where partners: 1) secure value by enforcing their own interests (agent control); 2) recombine their assets and capabilities to create value for partners, society and the environment (resource integration); and 3) navigate differences between institutional logics to enhance shared value (value empathy). The salience of contextual factors, including compatibility of what the authors term engagement logics as well as institutional logics, influences the interventions deployed, the mechanisms through which interventions operate, and outcomes. The framework offers practitioners a tool for selecting interventions in their own context.”

Beyond the Comfort Zone? County Government Collaboration with Private-Sector Organizations to Deliver Services,” International Journal of Public Administration, Jeffrey L. Brudney, Christopher R. Prentice, and Joseph L. Harris

Abstract: “Despite burgeoning research on collaboration, the preference and choice of public managers to partner with other public-sector institutions versus private-sector organizations has received comparatively little attention. This study proposes that public managers are inclined to partner with other government agencies, i.e., within their ‘comfort zone,’ and presents a model to explain when they may go beyond the comfort zone to collaborate with private establishments. Using an embedded case study design, this study examines how the professional background of the manager, characteristics of the government organization, and the ‘market’ of potential partners influence the reported incidence of collaboration with nongovernmental actors.”

Moving the Needle Towards Health Equity: A Policy-driven Transdisciplinary Approach to Address Health Disparities for Vulnerable Communities,” Health Education Journal, Reddy et al.

Objective: Policymakers, health services researchers, community leaders and health care delivery organisations are key stakeholders in addressing economic, environmental, social and systemic barriers to health equity in vulnerable communities. However, they often operate in silos, leaving gaps in efforts to effectively address health disparities. It is important to develop a new approach to influencing responsive health equity-focused policies.

Method: Relationships were developed with the policymaker specifically targeting food insecurity and paediatric asthma. Graduate student researchers conducted academic placements within the elected official’s office, attended relevant municipal meetings, engaged with local community-based organisations and partnered with a major academic medical centre to collect data and understand current efforts related to the two focus areas.

Conclusion: By ensuring ‘buy-in’ from policymakers at the onset of collaboration, stakeholders worked as a transdisciplinary team to translate academic research into actionable policy to benefit high-need communities. This model adopted can potentially accelerate and improve the development and implementation of actionable policies, thereby increasing social capital and building relationships with policymakers to address the root causes of health inequities.”

Social Impact Bonds: More Than One Approach,” Stanford Social Innovation Review, Gary Painter, Kevin Albertson, Chris Fox, and Chris O’Leary

“In 2017, Los Angeles County launched its first social impact bond (SIB). The Just-in-Reach project aims to improve the outcomes of a high-needs population — people with a history of mental illness or substance abuse coming out of prison — and determines success by the rate of housing stability and a reduction in recidivism. Even with the abundance of staff, funding, and legal support that the SIB partners — the County of Los Angeles, United Healthcare, and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation — brought to the table, the contract took more than six years to develop.

The SIB model for commissioning social services is costly and complex, yet it has generated considerable enthusiasm on both sides of the Atlantic. Over the past few years, we have been examining the emergence of SIBs in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, with the aim of not only gleaning early lessons, but also understanding theoretically how SIBs fit into broader institutions of social change, why and how SIBs are evolving, and whether they can achieve their promise.

There are a wide variety of reasons why governments around the world and their partners choose SIBs to address particular social problems, including deferring payment, risk shifting, and facilitating social innovation. Understanding their different goals can help other practitioners determine whether developing an SIB is the right approach for them and, if so, what practical framework might work best.”