Research Briefing, October 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:

  • vertical complexity in public-nonprofit networks,
  • tensions between bureaucracy and democracy in collaborative governance,
  • public-private cybersecurity partnerships,
  • a typology of data collaboratives,
  • funder support in collaborative problem-solving, and
  • public management in foster care administration.

In Search for Inclusiveness: Vertical Complexity in Public-Nonprofit Networks,” Public Management Review, Caroline Vermeiren, Peter Raeymaeckers, and Jonathan Beagles

Abstract: “We examine how and why public-non-profit networks incorporate vertical complexity into their governance structures to allow network members to participate in the decision-making process. Our results show that public-non-profit networks establish levels of vertical complexity by hiring network coordinators and establishing group modes of governance (steering committees and workgroups). The representatives of the leading agencies state that vertical complexity is necessary in terms of balancing inclusiveness and efficiency in the network. The network members confirm that next to coordinators acting as stewards and mediators, group modes of governance are equally important for counterbalancing the uneven distribution of decision-making power and for restoring trust.”

Toward a Critical Theory of Collaborative Governance,” Administrative Theory & Praxis, David W. McIvor

Abstract: “In recent years, there has been a notable shift toward collaborative governance as a theoretical and practical framework for public administration and management, and in light of this shift, public administration scholars have called for refocused attention on the relationship between bureaucracy and democracy. This article responds to this call by turning to the critical social theory of Jürgen Habermas. It reviews relevant elements of Habermas’s broader social theory that illuminate the tension between bureaucracy and democracy in the context of collaborative governance. Collaborative governance is best viewed from the perspective of a critical theory attuned to the normative and political stakes of collaborative arrangements and practices. In the conclusion, the specific contributions made to collaborative governance from a critical theory perspective are discussed. The article ends with a plea for the folding of critical democratic pedagogy into the training of public managers and administrators. Public managers should be trained to see the potentials of collaboration from the perspectives of both administrator and citizen in order to see not only how processes of governance or management take place but also how those processes could and should advance the cause of democracy.”

U.S. Government Cyber Structure and Public-Private Cybersecurity Partnerships,” Cybersecurity Law, Jeff Kosseff

Abstract: “This chapter reviews the increasingly centralized civilian cybersecurity operations, many of which are located within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It examines DHS’s cybersecurity information‐sharing program, created by the Cybersecurity Act of 2015. The chapter also reviews the voluntary Cybersecurity Framework developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The Cybersecurity Framework is a good example of a public-private partnership that seeks to improve cybersecurity in the private sector without imposing regulations or the fear of costly litigation. The chapter also examines the U.S. military’s ability to protect civilian networks and systems, and the limits placed on these activities by the Posse Comitatus Act. The U.S. government has highly valuable, nonpublic information about cybersecurity vulnerabilities, or zero‐day exploits. To address the competing values, the U.S. government has maintained a ‘vulnerabilities equities process,’ in which it weighs the competing values and decides whether to withhold the public disclosure for a limited period of time.”

Leveraging Private Data for Public Good: A Descriptive Analysis and Typology of Existing Practices,” The GovLab, Stefaan G. Verhulst, Andrew Young, Michelle Winowatan, and Andrew J. Zahuranec

“To address the challenges of our times, we need both new solutions and new ways to develop those solutions. Data will play a central role in this process. Yet, much of the most useful, timely and comprehensive data that could help transform the way we make decisions or solve public problems resides with the private sector in the form of call detail records, online purchases, sensor data, social media data, and other assets. If we truly want to harness the potential of data to improve people’s lives, we need to understand and find ways to unlock and re-use this private data for public good.

In what follows, we analyze the current practice of ‘data collaboratives,’ an emerging form of collaboration in which a private-sector entity’s data is leveraged in partnership with other entities from the public sector, civil society or academia for public good.

How Can Foundations Promote Impactful Collaboration?,” The Foundation Review, Douglas Easterling and Laura McDuffee

“Funders are increasingly looking to interagency and cross-sector collaboration as a strategy to solve complex, large-scale issues, but many collaborative groups fail to generate an impact with their work. This is due in part to funders’ own practices, such as pre-specifying the problem to be solved or limiting their grantees’ ability to adjust their strategy.

The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts has been intentional about facilitating the effectiveness of the collaborative groups it supports. Its Health Care & Health Promotion Synergy Initiative provides long-term funding and assistance with planning, evaluation and sustainability to groups that define the problems they want to solve.

This article presents systems-change outcomes from 14 collaborative groups supported under the initiative since 2000. Interviews with representatives from four of the more successful projects indicate the key tasks involved in designing, implementing, refining, and sustaining impactful programs. Interviewees reported on the value of the Synergy Initiative model, but also emphasized that the model requires high levels of commitment and analytic capacity.”

How Government and Community Nonprofit Collaboration and Non-Collaboration Affects Public Sector Outcomes,” International Journal of Public Administration, Rebecca H. Padot

Abstract: “This four state foster care study seeks to understand what practices state public managers perform with regards to community nonprofits that contributes to effectiveness in producing better public sector outcomes. The study produced key player field research data on the conditions under which community nonprofits produce better public sector outcomes.

This article offers reasons as to why some effective community nonprofits were able to achieve collaboration with the public sector, while others were not, despite their effectiveness. Effective public managers in the area of foster care administration permit, and at times recruit, community nonprofits to have an impact on their foster care domain, while ineffective public managers never reach out to community nonprofits as partners or further yet, block nonprofits from access.”