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Producing Human Services: Why Do Agencies Collaborate?


  • Laurence E. Lynn Jr.
  • Carolyn J. Hill


Belief in the resource-saving and service-enhancing potential of inter-organizational collaboration has become virtually an article of faith among resource providers, client advocates, and service planners. Yet collaboration in practice encounters myriad difficulties, and successful collaborations are relatively rare. We focus on providers’ incentives to collaborate: assuming that there are unrealized net benefits from collaboration, why might a provider decide to reallocate effort away from independent (i.e., uncoordinated) service provision and toward collaboration? We review theories of three types: rational choice theories, socialized choice theories, and psychological/cognitive choice theories. We discuss of implications of these kinds of theories for the creation and governance of collaborations and lay the groundwork for further empirical investigation of collaboration.

Suggested Citation

  • Laurence E. Lynn Jr. & Carolyn J. Hill, 2001. "Producing Human Services: Why Do Agencies Collaborate?," JCPR Working Papers 219, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:wop:jopovw:219

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