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Department of Premier and Cabinet

Potential benefits and costs

In order to determine whether a collaborative arrangement is suitable and/or necessary to solve your particular issue you may wish to consider the following costs and benefits of collaboration.[1]

Benefits of collaboration

  • better policy development and service delivery: having all relevant stakeholders present to combine skills, capacities and expertise enables better resolutions to policy issues. Collaboration provides an opportunity to assess an issue from multiple perspectives and develop informed policy solutions that might not have been reached by one agency acting alone;
  • greater support for policy implementation: engaging relevant stakeholders early in the development of solutions to policy problems ensures greater support and traction across Government and the community;
  • mutual learning and capacity building within agencies: through the development of networks and supportive relationships, inter-agency secondments, and recruitment of different profiles and skills; [2]
  • exploiting economies of scale: sharing of information and communications technology, data, information and property.

Costs of collaboration

  • accountability: where a policy issue crosses multiple agencies or portfolios there is often difficulty in ensuring political or ministerial buy-in and accountability for arrangements as it is unclear who is responsible for what;
  • resources: working collaboratively can be time consuming, expensive and it may be difficult in some cases to reach a resolution that is supported by all parties, delaying implementation;
  • a collaborative ‘ruse’: arrangements may be used to ‘sell’ decisions that have been made elsewhere or previously by agencies, so that the outcomes may not be truly collaborative.[3]

[1] Wanna, J “Collaborative government: meanings, dimensions, drivers and outcomes” in O’Flynn J and Wanna J (Eds), 2008, Collaborative Governance: A new era of public policy in Australia, ANU E Press <http://epress.anu.edu.au/collab_gov_citation.html>, p.9.

[2] ibid, p 9.

[3] ibid, p10.

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