Evaluation of Collaborative Government

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I. Collaborative Government
1. What is collaborative government?
When talking about collaborative government we should start by pointing out the seminar held by the Performance and Innovation Unit ( PIU ) of the UK Cabinet Office, in 2001. The PIU seminar purpose was to encourage a more rigorous thinking about delivery issues in government. A particular concept had an important meaning at that seminar, that one referring to "joining up" within government itself. This concept applies to building up local capacity and community engagement.
The concept of collaborative government can be seen applied in many of the world's countries. One example of good collaborative government is that in Netherlands, where partnerships between governments, private parties and civil society were made. Using this collaborative way of governing, a country education standards, health standards, and so on can be improved.
A negative example of what the lack of collaborative government means can be spotted in the Enschede disaster (the explosion of a fireworks factory that led to the destruction of a large part of the city of Enschede). Here, because of the failures in communicating between the layers of government, a disaster happened, one that could have been prevented only if collaboration would have existed.
This kind of government, the collaborative one, can be seen by some as a negative one, because in the last couple years all kind of reforms "erupted" all over the world and people don't know which one is good and which one is bad. These reforms were so wide-spread that some have labeled them as "New Public Management". By this name stands a new system of governance in which economic, organizational, political and technical contexts could mix together for the provision of public goods and services.
In the British, American, Canadian and Dutch cases the collaborative government could be a new governance. The experiences from these countries point out policy delivery problems and a frequent loss of control by political authority. If at first they took as strategies the new ways of public management, they have recently moved their attention to networks and inter-organizational arrangements. In this way no actor involved in the government process can be effectively in control, because all the actors are interdependent. These new ways of collaborative government challenges the traditional way of political control.
In collaborative arrangements can be involved a cultural change as well, because many of the efforts of collaborating have floundered, trapped in a political maze of entrenched interests, characterized by o failure to learn or transfer knowledge or innovation. Even if collaborative arrangements are a good thing, there needs to be more rigorous thinking about the nature, forms and terms of inter-organizational collaboration. 
2. Collaboration: definition and manifestations
It cannot be said about collaborative arrangements that they are something new for countries such as Sweden and the Netherlands, because these countries have a long and distinguished historical traditions in collaborative in policy design, development and delivery. Collaboration was a option of the social democrats of the 60's and 70's, but came under threat in the 80's and early 90's, when governments of the right saw collaborative strategies as instruments of a failed regime. An example is Britain, where in the 90's some partnerships focusing urban policy were replaced by competitive initiatives such as City Challenge and the Single Regeneration Budget in which agencies had to bid for resources. This type of policy, the competitive one, is a feature of the governments of right.
During the last decade, collaboration and other network mechanisms became the central aspect of changing governance in many political systems. These have clear costs and benefits on a number of dimensions. It is still premature to say if the collaborative or network arrangements work, because a response can be difficult to find and certainly cannot be taken for granted.


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