Organizational Leadership and Management in Interorganizational Partnerships: Varieties of Networking in the Era of New Governance.

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Title: Organizational Leadership and Management in Interorganizational Partnerships: Varieties of Networking in the Era of New Governance.
Author: Baxter, Fiona Margaret
Advisors: James H. Svara, Ph.D., Committee Chair
Abstract: The challenges of administering in today's networked world are considerable. Setting coherent goals and striving for intraorganizational collaboration to achieve specific objectives is challenging within a single public agency, assuming it is at least structurally capable of unified action. These tasks become even more difficult in the era of new governance where public managers must engage in interorganizational arrangements where they may find themselves sharing the formal authority that they have traditionally wielded by themselves with their partners. So, why do public administrators decide to work together and, when such efforts are undertaken, what are the institutional constraints that influence behavior? This question is the focus of this research. This researcher contends that by using rational choice institutionalism and sociological institutionalism, it is possible to move beyond description to explain why organizations come together to accomplish a shared goal and how preferences and institutional arrangements affect outcomes. Based on a review of the literature, an integrated model of institutionalism for interorganizational collaboration will be developed. This model will then be evaluated using research findings from one partnership between three community colleges reputed to be effectively engaged in addressing issues of workforce development in Central Florida. Of interest to this study is to demonstrate the usefulness of an integrated model of institutional theory for understanding and explaining interorganizational collaboration. Findings suggest that actors are initially driven to collaborate by decisions that can be explained by rational choice institutionalism. However, as the collaboration process unfolds, participants may have mixed preferences or shift between exogenous and endogenous preferences depending on circumstances (Mouritzen and Svara 2003: Heikkila and Isett 2004). The analysis of this study supports, in part, that participants' self-interest is an important incentive for participants to decide to collaborate. However, findings also indicate that as partners work together regularly and learn more about one another, the attainment of shared goals is important to keeping actors working together. An unanticipated finding of this analysis is that the leadership role of the community college presidents emerged as critical to not only launching but also sustaining the collaboration.
Date: 2006-04-28
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Public Administration

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