Managing paradoxes in public partnerships
To say that the trends to develop collaboration to deliver public services derive from global macrotrends inspired by the principles of New Public Management is a commonplace. This paper applies the lenses of institutional theory to the study of voluntary inter-municipal partnerships and counter-argues that collaboration initiatives are shaped by the interaction of political, functional and social pressures. Interestingly, this process of continuous shaping concerns both the creation and the disruption of collaborative arrangements. The capacity of Oliver’s (1992) concept of deinstitutionalisation of complement operational explanations is exemplified by illustrating the experience of voluntary inter-municipal collaborations in the Italian region of Lombardy. As part of an ongoing research programme, the paper draws primarily on relevant organisation research and previous qualitative fieldwork carried out by the authors.
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