Research Briefing, November 2017

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 about:

  • collaborative platforms and collaborative governance,
  • the privatization of public housing,
  • new forms of governance in sustainable urbanization,
  • mandated collaboration for public works,
  • defining and evaluating collaborative outcomes,
  • the role of private and philanthropic actors in enhancing social equity in housing, and
  • the influence of PPP enabling legislation on projects across the United States.

Collaborative Platforms as a Governance Strategy,” Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Chris Ansell and Alison Gash

Abstract: “Collaborative governance is increasingly viewed as a proactive policy instrument, one in which the strategy of collaboration can be deployed on a larger scale and extended from one local context to another. This article suggests that the concept of collaborative platforms provides useful insights into this strategy of treating collaborative governance as a generic policy instrument. Building on an organization-theoretic approach, collaborative platforms are defined as organizations or programs with dedicated competences and resources for facilitating the creation, adaptation and success of multiple or ongoing collaborative projects or networks. Working between the theoretical literature on platforms and empirical cases of collaborative platforms, the article finds that strategic intermediation and design rules are important for encouraging the positive feedback effects that help collaborative platforms adapt and succeed. Collaborative platforms often promote the scaling-up of collaborative governance by creating modular collaborative units — a strategy of collaborative franchising.”

The Organizational Challenges of Mixed-income Development: Privatizing Public Housing Through Cross-sector Collaboration,” Urban Research & Practice, Mark L. Joseph et al.

Abstract: “One of the largely undocumented dimensions of public housing transformation in the United States is the multi-sector, multi-organizational collaborations whose charge is to manage the local implementation of mixed-income developments. In Chicago, private real estate developers entered into partnerships with the Chicago Housing Authority to finance, design, build, and manage the new developments. Key topics considered in this paper include the structures and processes of new organizational working relationships that have been established, how they are evolving over time, and the key operational challenges confronted in creating and sustaining them. We argue that these cross-sector collaborations within the context of the privatization of public housing generate complex organizational roles and dynamics that would benefit from far greater intentionality, clarity, and support to promote effectiveness and accountability.”

Governing City Infrastructure: Who Drives the Urban Project Cycle? An Analysis of Hamburg, Manchester, Pittsburgh,” The Brookings Institution, Bruce Katz, Luise Noring, and Savvas Verdis

Abstract: “This report represents an effort to show in granular terms how different cities are innovating in distinct ways around sustainable urbanization. Over the last decade, long-term sector-specific plans in energy, transportation, and urban development have become the standard way through which many municipal governments try to influence sustainable development for the medium and long term. We believe practice must move beyond the realm of good planning and into accountability. Is a city delivering on its long-term targets and policies? Is it forging new forms of governance that foster collaboration across the public, private, and civic sectors and at all levels of government — city, suburban, state, and federal? And is it doing so in a way that can be rapidly adapted by other cities and scaled by national governments and global markets? To that end, we have selected a small group of cities — Hamburg, Germany; Manchester, United Kingdom; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — that we believe are first-movers in their regions for sustainable urban solutions. … We have identified a series of emblematic projects in each city in the focus areas of urban transit, energy efficient buildings, and decentralized renewable energy. For each project we have investigated the different actors that design, plan, finance, deliver, and manage concrete developments and initiatives. Such an inquiry provides, for the first time, an understanding of how entities in the public, private, and civic sectors interact on all the core elements of successful projects.

The Consent Order as Mandated Collaboration: The Case of Hampton Roads Sanitation District,” Public Works Management & Policy, Robert J. Martz, William J. McCarthy, and John C. Morris

Abstract: “In an age of growing infrastructure needs and increasingly limited resources to meet those needs, governments at all levels must search for ways to close the resources gap, as is the case of wastewater treatment and the requirement to treat stormwater. Recent efforts to address water quality have focused on collaboration as a mechanism to achieve desired outcomes. This article traces the development and implementation of a mandated collaborative effort to address stormwater infiltration into the sanitary sewer system in the Hampton Roads, Virginia, area. We find that, unlike more traditional conceptions of collaboration, the consent order in place served to require the participants to work together to achieve positive outcomes. We conclude with some general thoughts about the use of mandated collaboration as a lens to understand collaborative processes in public works settings.”

Defining, Achieving, And Evaluating Collaborative Outcomes: A Theory of Change Approach,” Public Management Review, Valeria Guarneros-Meza, James Downe, and Steve J. Martin

Abstract: “Governments have repeatedly claimed that collaboration improves public service outcomes. However, defining, achieving, and evaluating collaborative outcomes is often problematic. Analysis of multi-sectoral projects in Wales, which were supported by the European Social Fund, exemplifies these challenges. Shifts in policy discourses and the interplay between national and local agendas produced complex and contested understandings of outcomes which made difficult to evaluate the projects’ achievements. We argue that the pursuit of collaboration needs to be understood not simply as an attempt to improve public service effectiveness but also ‘cultural efficacy’. The conclusions offer reflections relevant for theory and practice.”

Housing as an Asset Class: Opportunities for Systems Change to Enhance Social Equity and Inclusion,” Urban Institute, Maya Brennan et al.

Abstract: “The goal of this report is to identify promising reforms and opportunities to deploy more investment capital to create and preserve secure, inclusive, and sustainable housing and communities. The public and philanthropic sectors can play an important role in reshaping the current system to generate more private investment in activities that fill the housing shortage and create inclusive and equitable neighborhoods. In fact, through the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), and the work of the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund, the public sector has already proven itself capable of drawing private capital to affordable housing. Similarly, philanthropy has shown the power of guarantees and program-related investments to chart a new course for private capital in affordable housing. We begin this report with a brief overview of the roles of private investment capital in the housing system. Then, we describe major challenges with the current housing supply, including the supply shortage, unit loss, housing cost burdens, and segregation, and clarify why these issues matter from an investor’s perspective. After identifying the challenges with the current system and how those challenges affect private capital allocations, we explore strategies to reform the system and attract more private and philanthropic capital to housing activities that would create equitable and inclusive communities.”

The Favourability of U.S. PPP Enabling Legislation and Private Investment in Transportation Infrastructure,” Utilities Policy, R. Richard Geddes and Eoin Reeves

Abstract: “The capacity of individual U.S. states to utilize public-private partnerships (PPPs) is influenced by the existence and nature of PPP enabling laws. We examine the nature of PPP enabling legislation and how it varies across states. Although commentators stress the importance of enabling laws, the relationship between the favourability of legislation and the transportation PPPs completed in each state remains unclear. We study three states where substantial PPP investment has occurred. That experience sheds light on the type of legislation required to remove obstacles to PPP investment but also the constraints remaining in each state. We uncover a relatively weak connection between enabling laws and PPP investment activity. We conclude that the existence of enabling legislation is a helpful but not necessarily sufficient condition for PPP investment.

Other recently released research on cross-sector collaboration: