New Models of Collaboration - A Guide for Managers

April 1, 2013


Collaboration in action

Governments around the world are attempting to improve public services through the use of advanced information technology. Increasingly these efforts rely on cross-boundary collaboration among government agencies, the private sector, and non-profit organizations.

This guide focuses on the key elements of these new working arrangements of particular importance to the people who will design and manage them. It is based on the two-year multinational study New Models of Collaboration for Delivering Public Services conducted in a partnership among the Centre Francophone d'Informatisation des Organisations (CEFRIO), in Quebec, the Center for Technology in Government in the US, and the Cellule Interfacultaire de Technology Assessment (CITA) in Belgium.

In the last decade, both industrialized and developing countries have been seeking new organizational models involving collaboration across-government or public-private partnerships. 

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 guide is based on a multinational research project designed to understand how these collaborations work. It involved a network of field researchers in Canada, the US and Europe who studied more than a dozen collaborations and uncovered critical success factors and lessons learned about these new organizational forms are designed, managed, and perform. 

Twelve of the case studies are presented in this guide, along with discussions of four key management issues, and summaries of conference presentations and other research results. 

The guide is arranged in a series of interrelated cases, essays, colloquium results, and research results that can be accessed as PDFs in the links below.

Overview pdf download

This overview outlines the three main dimensions of the study: political context, collaboration models and type of services provided to citizens and businesses. In addition, key management issues such as leadership and trust are highlighted in the guide.

Case Studies

In this section, you will find the stories of a dozen American, Canadian, and European public service delivery projects. Learn about their experiences in developing and implementing collaborative IT-enabled public service delivery projects for social services, business development, public access to information, and other purposes.

Each project developed new working arrangements among government organizations or between government and the private or nonprofit sectors.

The research included case studies of three forms of collaboration.

  • Public-Public collaboration models include agreements between public agencies and can be classified into two main categories: horizontal and vertical. The first refers to agreements between agencies or departments at the same level of government, while the second refers to intergovernmental alliances between local, provincial (state), or national administrations.
  • Public-Private collaboration models present a great diversity. Sub-contracting and out-sourcing are two common types. In these cases, Government retains responsibility for a service that is totally or partially operated by the private sector. A third type, Public-private partnerships (PPP or P3), focus on the sharing of resources, risks, and benefits across sectors.
  • Public-Nonprofit collaboration models involve public agencies at any level of government working with non-governmental or non-profit organizations to deliver a public service.

Public-Public Cases

  • NYS GIS Coordination Program pdf download
    Ophelia Eglene, Sharon S. Dawes (US)
    The New York State Geographic Information System (GIS) Coordination Program hosts a formal data sharing cooperative and a variety of educational and support services to encourage state and local development and use of spatial data.
  • Service Canada pdf download
    Lise Préfontaine, Valéry Ramonjavelo, Carole Maziade, Line Ricard (Canadian)
    The Service Canada initiative is an experimental project designed to improve the accessibility and quality of government services for citizens. Sponsored by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, its implementation takes the form of partnerships with various federal departments (primarily Public Works and Human Resources Development Canada), a few provincial governments (Manitoba, New Brunswick) and intermediary groups.

Public-Private Cases

  • Access Indiana pdf download
    Jon P.Gant (US)
    Access Indiana is the official information and transaction portal for the state of Indiana. The state portal is an innovative public-private partnership using a self-funding strategy to deliver government information and services to citizens and businesses.
  • Bremen Online pdf download
    Martin Hagen, Herbert Kubicek (European)
    Bremen Online Services is a federally funded project which aims to develop electronic government and to provide online transactions and payments in a secure way. The German project is carried out in an innovative public-private partnership by the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen and regional and national partners from private industry.
  • Cadastre Reengineering Project pdf download
    Carole Maziade, Lise Préfontaine (Canadian)
    The cadastre reengineering project involves developing and installing information and management systems for Quebec's real property tax program. Overseen by the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR), the project is being implemented by a private partner, the DMR Consulting Group, which is integrating goods and services, providing the technological infrastructure, and developing geospatial reference information systems.
  • pdf download
    Patricia Diamond Fletcher (US) is the federal government's official web portal enabling government-to-citizen (G2C), government-to-business (G2B), and government-to-government (G2G) interactions and transactions to occur. The portal includes more than 186 million web pages from federal and state governments, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories.
  • pdf download
    Sylvie Nigot (Eurpoean)
    Hotjob is a portal for job-seekers and employers implemented by FOREM, a jointly managed public service in Belgium. Hotjob provides job-seekers and employers easy access to over 500 job and training sites that the project staff has checked and indexed.
  • IRS e-File pdf download
    Patricia Diamond Fletcher (US)
    The electronic filing of income tax returns, or the e-file program, began with a partnership between the IRS and H&R Block in 1985 and has since grown to include a large number of tax preparers and individual and business taxpayers.
  • Ontario Business Connect pdf download
    Hélène Sicotte (Canadian)
    Ontario Business Connect (OBC) provides registration services for new businesses at multiple access points. Headed by the Ontario Ministry of Consumer and Business Services, the main partners are the government departments and agencies involved with new businesses at the provincial and federal level, IT firms, the point-of-service partners, and three private service wholesalers.
  • Partners in Change pdf download
    Paule Laberge (Canadian)
    Partners in Change is a project to reorganize the delivery of income assistance and social services provided by the New Brunswick Department of Human Resources Development (NBHRD) and carried out in partnership with the private firm of Andersen Consulting Canada, now Accenture.

Public-Nonprofit Cases

  • Ambassadeur Project pdf download
    Carole Maziade, Line Ricard (Canadian)
    Ambassadeur is a project involving education and training in the use of information technology to obtain government information. Headed by the Jonquière office of Human Resources Development Canada, the project is being carried out as a partnership mainly with the six CDACs (Community Development Assistance Corporations) in the Saguenay/St-Jean Lake region.
  • OneStop Business Registration pdf download
    Luc Bernier (Canadian)
    OneStop Business Registration (OSBR) is a one-stop project run by the Small Business Development Branch (SBDB) of the British Columbia Ministry of Small Business, Tourism, and Culture (MSBTC). It involves more than ten partners from the public and private sector, as well as non-profit organizations.

Comparative Essays

Four critical success factors are evident across the projects regardless of their purpose or location: leadership, trust, risk management, and communication. These short comparative essays discuss these important elements of project design and management.

These short comparative essays draw on all the cases of the New Models of Collaboration research project. They highlight leadership, trust, risk management, and communication all critical success factors that transcend national boundaries and are present in all the collaborations we studied. The essays contain specific examples from the cases and link to additional resources on the Web that elaborate on these topics.

  • Leadership and Project Success: Lessons from High Impact Government Innovations pdf download
    Patricia Diamond Fletcher, September 2003
    This essay, which draws on specific examples from all cases, emphasizes how leadership at different organizational levels is crucial in moving collaborative projects forward. Top political executive commitment at the federal, state, or municipal level is necessary to provide credibility for the innovation being undertaken. Agency-level and project team-level leadership serve as the driving mechanisms to sustain the effort and provide momentum throughout the project.
  • The Role of Trust in New Models of Collaboration pdf download
    Sharon Dawes, October 2003
    Both public trust and professional trust were necessary to the success of the collaboration projects we studied. Public trust refers to confidence of citizens and other stakeholders that the project or service is reliable and legitimate. Professional trust is present when all participants have faith in the commitment and skills of the others. This essays highlights strategies used to initiate and maintain trust in collaborative projects.
  • Risk Management in New Models of Collaboration pdf download
    Lise Préfontaine, October 2003
    Any innovative project involving collaboration among government organizations or with the private sector presents high levels of risk. In this essay, we distinguish external risks that have to do with the socio-economic, political, and technological environment of the project from internal risks related to the partners’ characteristics and relationships. We provide examples of the type of risks inherent in collaboration models as well as solutions applied in the dozen projects we studied.
  • Information Sharing, Communication and Coordination in E-government Collaborations pdf download
    Jon P. Gant, November 2003
    Information sharing, communication, and coordination play critical roles in the success of public service delivery projects achieved through collaboration. Managers of collaboration projects say that success relies on adopting tools to ensure a high level of communication and coordination among the partners at the working level, not just among executives. This essay uses examples from the cases to illustrate the importance of open and frequent communication as well as practical mechanisms for problem solving.

International Colloquium Results

The international colloquium "Public-Private Partnership: for Improved Government Performance", held on October 24th and 25th, 2002 at the Centre des congrès of Québec, QC featured more than 40 speakers from Europe, the United States and Canada. International experts, professionals, and researchers participated in this event where the innovative public-private partnerships that were studied in the framework of the New Models of Collaboration for Delivering Government Services research project were presented and discussed. Selected presentations are summarized below and access to PowerPoint presentations delivered is provided.

Selected Presentations

  • Main Conference
    Great Britain: An Inspirational Source of Know-How pdf download
    Peter Ryan, Head of Private Finance Policy & Project, Office of Government Commerce, London, Great Britain Government
    Great Britain is considered a world leader in the use of public-private partnerships. According to several experts, companies and governments who fail to adopt these new ways of doing things will most certainly fall behind. Peter Ryan presented the viewpoint of a senior British official. He explained how collaboration between the public and private sectors has become a must in his country, listed the ingredients that are essential to its success, and pointed out the mistakes that need to be avoided. He defined the meaning of a true public-private partnership and explained who its architect should be. He explained key roles, with special emphasis on the role that politicians should play. He dwelled not only on the importance of meeting budgets and deadlines, but also on ways to measure the success of such an initiative.

  • Workshops
    Ontario Business Connect: For Better or for Worse pdf download
    Denis Carette, eng., Officer in charge, Bureau des partenariats d'affaires (Office for business partnerships), Secrétariat du Conseil du trésor du Québec, Quebec, Canada.
    Debbie Farr, Director, Ontario Business Connect, Integrated Service Delivery Division, Ontario Ministry of Consumer and Business Services, Toronto, Canada.
    Alison Curtis, Manager, Strategy and Planning, Legal Line of Business, Teranet Inc. Toronto, Canada.
    Some experts jokingly draw a link between public-private partnerships and marriage: it seems that living together is not always easy. At the very least, the experience raises questions: Can power be shared equitably; can alliances of this type be successful; what are the ingredients for success; how are the low points managed? Joined for better and for worse within the framework of the Ontario Business Connect project, the Teranet company and the Ontario Government have experienced different types of public-private partnerships. During this workshop, the speakers - worthy representatives of their respective camps - gave an account of this union. The partners - according to their individual perceptions - focused on the key factors of success and the obstacles hampering or halting the process. They described their "life as a couple" with its good and bad moments: how they learned to manage their problems, to avoid certain confrontations, etc. They also presented and discussed the various models tested over the past few years.

    Innovation for the Benefit of Citizens: Access Indiana Information Network pdf download
    Jon P. Gant, Assistant Professor, Maxwell School and School of Information Studies, Syracuse University, United States.
    Laura Larimer, Chief Information Officer, State of Indiana, United States.
    Candy Irven, General manager, Access Indiana Information Network (AIIN), Indianapolis, United States.
    Set up in 1995, the Access Indiana Information Network is a private-public model of collaboration frequently quoted as a model. This U.S. state government portal provides information to citizens and businesses, and improves the performance of online transactions. Its policies, design, and selection of interactive services were determined by an action committee made up of State officials, professional association members, business representatives, and citizens. However, this State-regulated network would not exist today had it not been for the massive injection of private funding. Indian@Interactive, Inc, actually handles the daunting task of maintaining the site. The AIIN network includes 100,000 pages of government information from 75 State agencies, departments, and public commissions, as well as Indiana's judicial system.

    FirstGov.Gov: The American Federal Information Portal pdf download
    Sharon Dawes, Director, Center for Technology in Government (CTG), University at Albany, United States.
    Patricia D. Fletcher, Associate professor, Center for Technology in Government (CTG), University of Maryland Baltimore County, United States.
    Bill Piatt, General Services Administration, US Government, Principal, eStrategy, Booz Allen Hamilton, McLean, United States.
    The U.S. Government's official Web site, was created at the direct request of the President of the United States. Launched in September 2000, this portal now includes more than 186 million Web pages originating from the Federal Government and various States, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. It is designed for senior citizens, students and workers, as well as exporters and entrepreneurs. It features information on a wide variety of subjects like public services, legislation, e-business, etc. Managed by the U.S. Government, the portal has earned a number of awards for its design and the quality of its services. The result of a most original public-private partnership: owes its emergence to the three-year loan of a powerful search engine by the Inktomi company. Among other things, this singular donation made it possible to develop this enormous program behemoth in record time (a mere 90 days). This approach also required procurement innovation.

  • Exchange and Training Seminar
    Public-Private Partnership: Strategic Issues
    Moderator: Michel Audet, Scientific Director, CEFRIO, Professor, Industrial Relations Department, Université Laval, Quebec, Canada.
    CEFRIO & Pivot research team, CTG research team, CITA research team.
    This seminar provided a unique opportunity to discuss with experts the potential of information technology as it applies to public-private partnership; compared how Quebec, Europe and the United States view public-private collaboration; and shared practical experiences with actual cases. The three teams of researchers involved in the project New Models of Collaboration for Public Service Delivery discussed lessons learned from their national case studies and responded to issues raised by participants.

    New Models of Collaboration: Lessons from the American Experience pdf download
    Sharon Dawes, Director, Center for Technology in Government (CTG), University at Albany, United States.
    This presentation tackles the question "Do public-private partnerships improve government performance in the US?" Sharon Dawes also highlights critical success factors and barriers to these innovative forms of collaboration.

Research Results

Presentations, reports, and published articles based on the New Models of Collaboration research project offer a look at the prevalent strategies in various countries as well as the key research findings.

Over the course of the two year research project "New Models of Collaboration for Delivering Public Services," researchers delivered presentations across the United States and Canada. The multinational research teams also collaborated in producing white papers and articles. This section provides a sample of the many presentations delivered and articles recently published. 


  • New Models of Collaboration for Public Service delivery pdf download
    Lise Prefontaine, Line Ricard, Helene Sicotte, Danielle Turcotte, Sharon Dawes
    April 2000
    Collaborative partnerships in the public sector are helping to pave the way for new innovations in information and service delivery. This white paper presents the conceptual model used for the New Models of Collaboration research project. The six dimensions of the model are explored in detail. In addition, the white paper summarizes the findings of a review of collaborative public sector service methods around the world. A look at trends in Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and developing countries is provided.
  • Understanding New Models of Collaboration for Delivering Government Services pdf download
    Sharon S. Dawes, Lise Prefontaine
    Communications of the ACM, Volume 46, Number 1, January 2003, pp 40-42
    In the last decade, countries all over the globe have sought to deliver public services through new working relationships among governments and private and nonprofit organizations. The defining characteristic of these collaborations is the voluntary combination of separate organizations into a coherent service delivery system supported by advanced Information Technology (IT). This article presents a summary of preliminary findings of the New Models of Collaboration multinational research project that studied a dozen of these collaborations in the United States, Europe, and Canada.


  • Conducting International Public Management Research: Challenges & Strategies pdf download
    Ophelia Eglene, Sharon Dawes
    May 2003
    In this presentation delivered at the 2003 National Conference on Digital Government Research, researchers of the New Models of Collaboration project reflect on the challenges of conducting a public management research project that spanned over two continents and four countries, involved work in four different languages with eleven different research institutions and three funding agencies.
  • New Models of Collaboration: Preliminary Results of a Multinational Investigation pdf download
    Sharon Dawes, Ophelia Eglene, Lise Préfontaine
    September 2001
    This presentation on the preliminary results of the New Models of Collaboration research project was presented at the 2001 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association (APSA) Annual Meeting in San Francisco, CA. Conceptual problems with the original model used in the research project were exposed as well as challenges posed by the multinational dimension of the research project.
  • New Models of Collaboration: The American Cases pdf download
    Sharon Dawes, Ophelia Eglene, Jon Gant, Patricia Flectcher
    November 2001
    In November 2001, the American research team presented results from their cases at the third CEFRIO private and public partners transfer session in Quebec, QC. The management methods, collaboration processes, and performance of each American project was explained in detail and critical success factors were highlighted.
  • The Power of Partnerships: New Models for Electronic Government pdf download
    Sharon Dawes, Patricia Fletcher, Lise Préfontaine
    March 2003
    This presentation was delivered at the 2003 American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. Sharon Dawes presented an overview of the New Models of Collaboration research project, Patricia Fletcher explained the FirstGov project in detail, and Lise Préfontaine focused on one Canadian case, Ontario Business Connect.

Research Team


  • Sharon Dawes, Director, Center for Technology in Government
  • Ophelia Eglene, Graduate Assistant, Center for Technology in Government
  • Jon P. Gant, Assistant Professor, Maxwell School and School of Information Studies, Syracuse University
  • Patricia Diamond Fletcher, Associate Professor, Policy Sciences Graduate Program, University of Maryland Baltimore County


  • Lise Préfontaine, Research Associate, CEFRIO, Professor, Department of Management and Technology, School of Management Science, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)
  • Line Ricard, Associate Professor, Marketing Department, École des Hautes Études Commerciales (HEC), Montreal
  • Hélène Sicotte, Professor, Department of Management and Technology, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)


  • Sylvie Nigot, Analyst/Consultant, NSI-SA, Researcher, Cellule Interfacultaire de Technology Assessment (CITA - FUNDP), Namur, Belgium


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