CROSS-SECTOR COLLABORATIVES: ISSUES OF IMPLEMENTATION AND PERFORMANCE
Littlefield, Jennifer Nash
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Poverty, access to quality education, unemployment... all examples of complex issues that demand attention in our society. For these problems, solutions are often forged through joint action in the form of collaborative networks. Collaborative networks are defined as "collections of government agencies, nonprofits, and for-profits that work together to provide a public good, service, or `value' when a single agency is unable to create the good or service on its own (Isett, Mergel, LeRoux, Mischen, and Rethemeyer, 2011, p. i158)." This dissertation examines the relationship between the collaborative design and implementation process and collaborative effectiveness. I include a comparative case study method and utilize the multiple-case replication design (Yin, 2009); specifically analyzing six cases from the Annie E. Casey Leadership in Action Program (LAP). Interviews, document analysis and an original survey are used as part of the research design. This dissertation has two key components. First, I operationalize and expand an important evaluative tool that allows collaboratives to understand their performance at various levels and share their success and shortcomings in a rich, straightforward, and cost effective manner. This framework allows for measurement on multiple dimensions and levels, lending information on the relevance and impact of collaborative groups. Secondly, I use my findings with regard to performance to analyze the process of high, moderate, and low performing groups to determine the most important elements of successful collaboration. This research demonstrates a clear relationship between design process and effectiveness, with certain elements making positive results more likely. These are: the use of an accountability system, decision-making process, relationship building, and facilitation. Overall this research fills a void and makes a significant contribution to the literature and practice of collaborative networks, potentially impacting how future cross-sector collaboratives work together to produce public value and address major public problems.