New Models of Collaboration for Delivering Government Services


Project started on Jan. 10, 2000 (Completed)

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.

Scope of Work

The three-year project addresses the following questions:

  • Which political, institutional, socio-economic, and cultural factors promote inter-organizational collaboration? Can successful experiences be transferred among countries, and under what conditions?
  • What are the characteristics and objectives of organizations that become involved in these partnerships?
  • What are the critical success factors involved at each stage of the partnership building process (from inception to implementation)?
  • Which technologies offer the most promising opportunities for new models of collaboration?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of different methods of collaboration?

The project is carried out by an international network of field researchers in Canada, the US, and Europe who prepared case studies of apparently successful collaborations in their countries. A comparative analysis allows cross-cultural comparisons and identification of critical barriers, enablers, and results associated with the technologies, processes, and relationships employed in each case. The final step is the preparation and active dissemination of scholarly articles and practitioner-oriented guidelines.

The American cases include the New York State Geographic Information System Coordination Program, Access Indiana,, and the Internal Revenue Service e-File program. Nine Canadian and three European cases include collaborations associated with job services, tourism, insurance, business development, and other topics.

The study includes the preparation of separate cases, plus cross-case analysis, a practitioner-oriented management guide, the preparation of scholarly articles, and an international colloquium.

Press Releases & News Stories

Press Releases

Publications & Results



Journal Articles & Conference Papers

Public Events

International Colloquium: Public-Private Partnership: For Improved Government performance
October 24-25, 2002
Quebec, QC, Canada

Round tables, plenary sessions and workshops presented actual cases that addressed numerous questions raised by the implementation of public/private partnerships:

  • How well do public/private partnerships promote better government performance?
  • What are the issues and challenges faced by public/private partnership managers?
  • What types of partnerships have been developed to date and how have they progressed over the course of the project?
  • What are the conditions for success (double leadership, transparency, etc.)?
  • What kinds of traps should be avoided (pseudo-partnerships, ultra strict terms and conditions, etc.)?
  • What kinds of problems can be solved by public/private partnerships?
  • And what can be said about political accountability, quality of services, organizational culture shock and performance indicators?


Academic Partners

  • Patricia D. Fletcher, Associate Professor, Policy Sciences Graduate Program, University of Maryland Baltimore County
  • Lisa Prefontaine, University of Quebec at Montreal, Canada

International Partners

  • CEFRIO (Centre Francophone d'Informatisation des Organisations), Quebec Province, Canada

Center for Technology in Government

  • Sharon Dawes, Principal Investigator
  • Ophelia Eglene, Graduate Assistant

Funding Sources

The US portion of this project was funded in part by the National Foundation's Digital Government Program through grant number EIA-99832.