The paradoxical nature of collaboration

Document Type

Book Chapter


In the past two decades, there has been an increasing use of intra-and interorganizational collaborations across organizations in the public, for-profit, and nonprofit sectors. In the public and nonprofit sectors, in particular, agencies have begun to recognize that many policy problems are not neatly bounded by the organizational lines of particular government agencies, and there are numerous case examples of agencies working with other agencies across levels of government; across agencies at the federal, state, and local levels; and across sectors, as state and local agencies work more collaboratively with nonprofit agencies and for-profit organizations (Bardach 1998; Linden 2002; Milward and Provan 2006). Perhaps one of the most dramatic examples of the creation of collaborative systems can be seen in the events following September 11, 2001, where, in the aftermath of this tragedy, a call was made to coordinate federal, state, and local initiatives aimed at securing the United States from further domestic and international attack and, in fact, a new cabinet-level agency-the Department of Homeland Security-was created to coordinate the efforts of more than forty federal agencies along with state and local counterparts in defending the homeland. Of course, many less-dramatic examples of collaboration exist, as agencies recognize the value of sharing information and resources with other agencies working toward similar, if not the same, goals.

Publication Title

Big Ideas in Collaborative Public Management

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