Research Briefing, July 2019

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:

  • addressing the rural opioid epidemic through cross-sector collaboration,
  • building infrastructure for cross-sector collaboration in state health agencies,
  • social motivation outcomes in collaborative governance,
  • a new initiative in food security governance,
  • urban governance in an information age, and
  • consultant influence on collaborative environmental planning.

Addressing the Rural Opioid Addiction and Overdose Crisis through Cross-Sector Collaboration: Little Falls, Minnesota,” American Journal of Public Health, Caroline Au-Yeung, Lynn A. Blewett, and Kathy Lange

Abstract: “Public Health Morrison County Community-Based Care Coordination is a collaborative, cross-sector effort in Little Falls, Minnesota, that began in 2014 to reduce the use and abuse of opioids among patients at the local hospital and clinic and within the broader local rural community. As of March 2018, 453 clinic patients discontinued use of controlled substances (a reduction of 44952 doses each month), and law enforcement stakeholders have reported a decrease in drug crimes related to the sale of narcotics.”

Infrastructure for Cross-Sector Collaboration: The State Health Leader Perspective,” Journal of Public Health Management & Practice, Maggie Carlin and Emily Peterman

Abstract: “Cross-sector collaboration is a crucial mechanism for public health to address the social determinants of health and is recognized as a fundamental driver of community health improvement. As public health agencies seek to embrace this approach, relationship building across sectors is a key component of effective leadership. State health agencies regularly influence health determinants through partnerships and are well positioned to lead in this arena, but this leadership requires an infrastructure that supports cross-sector collaboration.

The field recognizes the need to foster collaboration across sectors, and there is growing consensus around investment in these partnerships. Inclusive engagement of communities and stakeholders in addressing health can advance equity and increase the impact of public resources. From the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Culture of Health Action Framework to the US Surgeon General’s commitment to direct focus toward ‘better health through better partnerships,’ the movement is well established.

To undertake and maintain these collaborations, public health agencies must develop this capacity and integrate it within their operations. The Public Health National Center for Innovations identifies the ability to convene across agencies and partners as a needed foundational capability of health departments. In identifying pathways to health equity, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine even proposed this primary role for public health agencies to ‘build internal capacity to effectively engage community development partners and to coordinate activities that address the social and economic determinants of health.’ As health agency leaders respond to these calls to action and build a collaboration infrastructure, they face both internal and external challenges.

In 2018, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials spoke with a sample of state health leaders to better understand the infrastructure needed to cultivate cross-sector collaborations toward population health. This unique leadership perspective comprised state health officials, senior deputies, and health agency legislative liaisons to best represent those responsible for population health priority setting, policy decision making, and infrastructure development. The mixed-methods framework demonstrated consensus among state health leaders and identified themes regarding critical infrastructure needs, as well as environmental barriers to partnering effectively outside of public health.”

Contributors and Free-Riders in Collaborative Governance: A Computational Exploration of Social Motivation and Its Effects,” Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Taehyon Choi and Peter J. Robertson

Abstract: “Collaborative governance systems are likely to be populated by participants with a mix of social or public service motivations, including both pro-self and pro-social orientations. However, these variations in motivation have not been adequately considered in the development of theory regarding participants’ interaction and group performance in collaborative governance. For this study, we develop an agent-based simulation model that incorporates insights from public administration, social psychology, and behavioral economics, the results from which suggest a number of theoretical propositions regarding the effects of the distribution of and patterns of adjustment in actors’ social motivation on outcomes in collaborative governance situations. In contrast to literature that has paid primary attention to free-riders and the role of punishment in sustaining collaboration, we suggest that more theoretical and practical attention needs to be given to the prosocial motivation of actors and their interactions so as to facilitate a virtuous circle of collaboration in public collaborative governance.”

Pursuing Dignified Food Security through Novel Collaborative Governance Initiatives: Perceived Benefits, Tensions and Lessons Learned,” Social Science & Medicine, Sara Edge and Samantha B. Meyer

Abstract: “Food security governance is broadening and diversifying, resulting in organizations coming together in novel collaborative actions, despite little history of working together. Alternative food initiatives coexist alongside traditional charitable, emergency-based approaches. Tensions can arise between approaches and collaborating organizations due to differences in philosophy, priorities, constraints and practices. There is limited knowledge on how converging interests are interacting with one another within shifting landscapes of collaborative intervention, or the experiences of governance stakeholders involved. Through in-depth interviews this case-study examines the experiences of diverse stakeholders involved in a novel food security coalition and their perceived benefits, challenges, tensions and lessons learned. Benefits included greater communication, information sharing, understanding of diverse needs, more frequent and customized referrals, and the development of a community food centre that has increased access to affordable fresh produce in inclusive manners. Simultaneously changes in governance have produced turf wars and competition over resources. We reveal the importance of sensitivity when advocating for food system reforms to avoid ‘villainizing’ organizations that have been supporting those in need through charitable means, or further marginalizing populations who may perceive less access barriers when using food banks. Our findings suggest perceptions on what it means to provide ‘dignified’ food access vary according to unique needs and lived experiences, and one delivery model is likely inappropriate. Food banks and alternative food initiatives serve unique roles and efforts should be made to ensure they can co-exist and that those with lived experience play an influential role in changing food governance systems.”

Open Governance of Cities: A New Paradigm for Understanding Urban Collaboration,” Frontiers in Sustainable Cities, Albert J. Meijer, Miriam Lips, and Kaiping Chen

Abstract: “This theoretical viewpoint paper presents a new perspective on urban governance in an information age. Smart city governance is not only about technology but also about re-organizing collaboration between a variety of actors. The introduction of new tools for open collaboration in the public domain is rapidly changing the way collaborative action is organized. These technologies reduce the transaction costs for massive collaboration dramatically and thus facilitate new forms of collaboration that we could call ‘open governance’: new innovative forms of collective action aimed at solving complex public policy issues, contributing to public knowledge, or replacing traditional forms of public service provision. These innovative open and collaborative organisational forms in cities seem to point towards not only a wide variety of digitally connected actors but also to a fundamentally different and more invisible role of government in these arrangements. We argue that the recently emerging paradigm of New Public Governance (NPG) (Osborne 2010) also fails to capture the dynamics of open governance since it does not acknowledge the emergent – pop-up – character of the new collaborations; neither does it present an understanding of massive individualized collaboration in cities. This paper aims to theoretically and empirically explore the core elements and the underlying socio-technical developments of this new Open Governance (OG) paradigm and compare and contrast OG with existing governance paradigms. Based on illustrative real-life cases, we will argue that we need a new paradigm that is better capable of explaining these emerging innovative forms of governing cities. We will argue that this requires an understanding of governance as a platform that facilitates an urban ecosystem. By connecting new insights from studies on digital governance to the debate about governance paradigms, this paper results in a set crucial empirical and normative questions about governance of cities and also in guidelines for urban governance that builds upon the rich, emerging interactions in cities that are facilitated by new technologies.”

Collaborative Governance or Private Policy Making? When Consultants Matter More than Participation in Collaborative Environmental Planning,” Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, Tyler A. Scott and David P. Carter

Abstract: “The study of collaborative governance constitutes an established sub-literature within environmental policy and management scholarship. Among the lessons of this literature is that the mix of collaborative participants in question shapes collaborative planning outputs and the commitment participants exhibit towards joint planning efforts. This paper argues that a focus on the composition and commitment of collaborative participants ignores an increasingly prevalent actor in environmental planning-private sector contract consultants. We examine the relative influence of stakeholder attendance and the consulting firm providing support and facilitation in the case of integrated water resource management (IWRM) planning in the state of Georgia. Using attendance data derived from meeting minutes for ten concurrently operating regional IWRM councils, we document that neither the strength nor the commitment of collaborative efforts correlate with the content of planning outputs. Instead, the variation observed among regional plans can be largely explained by taking into account the consultant firms that were contracted to advise IWRM councils. Our discussion addresses the practical implications of relying on professional consultant services in environmental policy processes, and the theoretical imperative of incorporating consultant influence when explaining collaborative governance processes, outputs, and outcomes.