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The search for more effective methods of delivering public services began in the early 1980s in most industrialized countries. Overall, the trend has been toward reducing the role of the government in public service delivery in certain sectors of activities and encouraging the private or nonprofit sector to play a more important role. In the last decade, both industrialized and developing countries started to seek out new models of collaboration involving multi-government networks or public-private partnerships, often involving innovative use of information technology.

The objective of this research project is to enhance our understanding of multi-organizational collaborations engaged in the delivery of government services to citizens and businesses. The concept of "collaboration" here is a broad one. It includes not only public-private partnerships, but also encompasses situations involving multiple government organizations, and government working with nonprofit organizations. The defining characteristic of these endeavors is the voluntary combination of separate organizations into a coherent service delivery system supported by advanced information technologies. The rapid evolution of these technologies has created important new opportunities for governments to redesign services through creative relationships with other organizations. This research seeks to document and analyze how these collaborations develop and perform in different nations around the world.

The Center for Technology in Government and the Centre Francophone d'Informatisation des Organisations (CEFRIO) in Quebec are the major research partners in this project. It involves comparative analyses of successful collaborations in North America and Europe through case studies developed by an international network of field researchers. The study is designed to identify critical barriers, enablers, and results associated with the technologies, processes, and relationships employed across a variety of collaboration models.