Successful Collaboration

In this project, we look at successful forms of collaborative forms of governance in which government actors work alongside both one another and a range of societal actors in networks designed to tackle complex social problems. This form of governance requires politicians and public servants traditionally embedded in vertical systems of authority and accountability to think and act ‘horizontally’ in terms of interdependence, exchange, complementarity and coproduction.


We approach the study of successful collaborative governance through three lines of research:

1. Building a global collaborative governance case database.

Research into collaborations is inherently time-consuming due the extensive sets of partners and perspectives to be examined. As a consequence, most empirical research is based on either a small set of qualitative case studies or a narrow measurement of a large set of cases. The case database will join the strengths of these two research methods by helping researchers to systematically document and share their case studies of collaborations, allowing participating researchers to access and mine each other’s case material. The database is being developed with an international team of leading scholars and will be open to researchers around the world. To read more about the case database click here.


2. Understanding successful collaborative service delivery in the face of wicked challenges.

This empirical project studies and evaluates collaborations who provide a service to citizens in highly complex, if not wicked, environments. Cases include collaborative service delivery between public, private, and societal partners working in the fields of radicalization, child protection, and illiteracy. The research focuses on comparing the processes and performances of different collaborations within a set population of cases (e.g. five of the local illiteracy networks within the set of thirty active local governments) in order to distinguish what separates the successful performers from the rest.

3. Improving processes for jointly discussing and discovering collaborative success.

In a more experimental line of research, we move beyond the substantive indicators of what constitutes collaborative success and focus on the process conditions which allow collaborative partners to discuss and discover what success means to their particular partnership. We organize round tables, stakeholder consultations, and partner summits for collaborations working on issues such as crisis management, infrastructure incidents, and childhood obesity. Together with the participants, we experiment with different process interventions which could help them to communicate across the divides and jointly assess their shared performance.”

Research in Successful Collaboration

Nohrstedt, D., Bynander, F.,  Parker, C & ‘t Hart, P. (2017). Managing Crises Collaboratively. Forthcoming in Perspectives on Public Management and Governance.

Contact Us:

Bijlhouwerstraat 6, 3511 ZC Utrecht, The Netherlands

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This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No694266)