Our world is full of networks. People network constantly, of course, but increasingly also organizations collaborate and network. Business partnerships and alliances have, for instance, become popular mechanisms to acquire new customers, to increase revenue, to share risks, to expand geographical reach, or to get access to technology and resources.
The public sector also “networks” and we can see agencies increasingly work together to address highly complex policy problems. The current arrival of refugees and migrants in Germany has for instance pushed many different agencies and ministries into a mode of collaboration that is oftentimes quite new to them. The benefits of such inter-agency collaboration are easy to see. If networks among public sector agencies function well, they can help avoid contradictory policies as well as minimize costly duplicative efforts or gaps when implementing policies. Even better, agencies can access resources they have otherwise no access too, they can learn from the experiences of their peers and they are able to adjust and synchronize their actions more easily.
Yet, there is a catch. Many networks of organizations, whether running under the name of policy networks, inter-agency collaborations, multi-stakeholder partnerships, strategic partnerships, or alliances linger around with little positive effects. Some fail altogether. (mehr …)