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Managing paradoxes in public partnerships


  • Maddalena SORRENTINO
  • Marco DE MARCO


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Maddalena SORRENTINO & Marco DE MARCO, 2012. "Managing paradoxes in public partnerships," Departmental Working Papers 2012-05, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
  • Handle: RePEc:mil:wpdepa:2012-05

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Thomas Lawrence & Roy Suddaby & Bernard Leca, 2009. "Introduction: theorizing and studying institutional work," Post-Print hal-00576557, HAL.
    2. T. Lawrence & R. Suddaby & B. Leca, 2009. "Introduction : Theorizing and studying institutional work," Post-Print hal-00808954, HAL.
    3. Peter J. May & Søren C. Winter, 2007. "Collaborative service arrangements," Public Management Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(4), pages 479-502, December.
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    More about this item


    Local government; incentive policies; implementation; inter-municipal collaboration; partnerships; paradoxes; deinstitutionalisation;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D85 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Network Formation
    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism
    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • L98 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Government Policy


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