Panel Paper: An Evidence-Based Decision Tool to Aid Local Governments with Collaborative Service Delivery Arrangements

Friday, November 9, 2018
8209 - Lobby Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

David Swindell, Arizona State University and Rosemary O'Leary, University of Kansas

Practitioners and academics have sought solutions to overcome the challenges that inhibit collaborations between and among public, private, and nonprofit organizations. Such collaborations offer possibilities for increased efficiencies, greater service delivery effectiveness, and higher levels of citizen satisfaction. Research to date has helped identify an array of such barriers, including such factors as electoral politics, governance structures, and mismatched procedures for the same services over a metropolitan area.

While providing a summary of such barriers that city managers and elected officials commonly face when exploring such opportunities, this paper moves beyond these barriers to highlight a wide array of examples of successful and unsuccessful collaborations across many common urban services such as animal control, economic development, sustainability, social media, performance measurement, and others.

Working with original data, over 80 city management officials, as well as data provided by the International City/County Managers Association and the Alliance for Innovation, this paper highlights a framework that illustrates the kinds of barriers that tend to confront collaborative efforts by types of urban service. The array of successful and unsuccessful cases highlights common strategies that work and do not work in overcoming those barriers by the type of service.

The analysis yields a decision matrix grounded in the evidence from these previous collaborations that aids local decision makers who are considering a collaborative service delivery arrangement. Utilizing seven (7) service characteristics and seven (7) jurisdictional characteristics derived from the data and Institutional Collective Action theoretical framework, the results from the decision exercise indicate the likelihood of a successful collaboration for that service in that type of jurisdiction. Additionally, the decision tool generates a recommendation of the preferred type of arrangement for that service in that type of jurisdiction.

In order to illustrate the application and utility of the decision tool, the paper applies the matrix to a case study of a community wrestling with a decision situation concerning a land development opportunity facing a community. The case highlights how the exercise walks city staff through the decision process in an easy and efficient manner that generates the new information for aiding in the collaboration decision.

While this matrix addresses one group of collaborative arrangements, there remains a continued need by scholars to study an ever wider array of such services to build our collective understanding of how to advance collaboration as a viable and normed style of urban service delivery where appropriate.

Keywords: Collaborative Services; Governance; Service Delivery

Possible Grouping with These Papers: 26979, 25318, 25856, and if five papers allowed 25792