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Unformatted text preview: Managing for Less The Fiscal Attributes of Collaboration* By Kurt Thurmaier, Ph.D. Division of Public Administration Northern Illinois University (Phone) 815.753.0311 (Fax) 815.753.2539 firstname.lastname@example.org Yu-Che Chen, Ph.D. Division of Public Administration Northern Illinois University (Phone) 815.753.2205 (Fax) 815.753.2539 email@example.com Abstract The benefits and costs of collaborations are often discussed in generic terms. Rarely do studies estimate the fiscal value of costs and benefits. This study begins to address this important issue by estimating costs, revenues and savings associated with interlocal agreements, and estimating the factors that contribute to higher or lower savings from local collaborations. Findings indicate these factors include attributes of the actual resources used in collaboration, characteristics of the agreements themselves, and qualities of the partnering local governments. Several implications for public managers are indicated in the conclusion. * Paper prepared for the 10 th National Public Management Research Conference in Columbus, Ohio, October 1-3, 2009. This research was made possible with an award from the IowAccess Advisory Council, Iowa Department of Administrative Services. The information in this report does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Department of Administrative Services or the IowAccess Advisory Council. Page 1 of 32 INTRODUCTION There are many potential benefits of collaborative public management. Gray et al. (2003) suggest advantages for collaboration include synergy (the partnership adds value by combining mutually reinforcing interests), transformation (the partnership objective is to transform different views into an ideological consensus), and financial benefits (the partnership endures by maximizing resources). OLeary and Bingham (2009, 7) suggest collaboration benefits include organizational effectiveness and efficiency, such as the ability to buffer external uncertainties, share risks, achieve competitive advantages, generate cost savings, improve organizational learning, and produce higher quality services. Tschirhart, et al (2009) note that resources also can be the root of some of the challenges of collaboration. Agency managers in a public management network (PMN) incur organizing and transaction costs that are assumed directly by network members, especially in networks that evolve informally (Provan & Milward, 2001). Managers in a variety of networks identify several types of collaboration costs, including lost time and opportunity, human relations processing costs, and resource hoarding (the failure to commit resources to the network) (Agranoff, 2007). Whether viewed as a benefit or cost, these and other studies suggest that understanding resource issues is essential for understanding collaborations....
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