ANZSOG call out for examples of cross-sector partnerships

In partnership with Curtin University, ANZSOG (Australia and New Zealand School of Government) Research has recently funded a number of case studies that look at joint efforts of public, not-for-profit (NFP) and business sector actors working together on public policy problems. This letter below is a call out for examples of recent and ongoing policy/service delivery initiatives that rely upon coordination and cooperation between public sector entities and not-for-profits. 


Peter Debus, Business Development Director of the Australia and New Zealand School of Government, writes:

As you would be aware, the identification of better practices in relation to working across sector boundaries is a priority for ANZSOG, its partner governments and their not-for-profit sector partners.

The ANZSOG Research Committee recently offered provisional approval to a proposal for a study of initiatives that rely on the joint efforts of public, not-for-profit and business sector actors working together to respond to public policy problems. The study would commence this year (2016) and conclude in 2018 and will produce practical cases. We at ANZSOG believe this project has the potential to generate important learnings with relevance to leaders and managers in both sectors.

The proposers – Professor David Gilchrist, Director of the Curtin Not-for-profit Initiative, Dr John Butcher, ANZSOG Research Fellow, and ANZSOG Professor John Wanna, Australian National University – have asked ANZSOG to approach its Government Partners and other stakeholders for suggestions about possible case studies.

The proposers are looking for up to eight examples of recent and on-going policy/service delivery initiatives that rely upon coordination/cooperation between public sector entities and not-for-profit (NFP) organisations.

The cases selected for inclusion in this study should embody characteristics that reflect the complexity of the environment in which program and service delivery occurs. In particular, the proposers invite suggestions about cases that, in your opinion, exhibit five or more of the following characteristics:

1.       operate across institutional, organisational and/or policy domain boundaries

2.       focus on addressing ‘wicked’ problems and ‘hard to reach’ target groups

3.       reflect a degree of variety in terms of policy domain, scale, size and reach, organisational mission (e.g. faith-orientation, advocacy, social enterprise) jurisdiction and geography (including New Zealand)

4.       incorporate elements of co-design and/or co-production

5.       offer insights on how public sector norms, practices or systems might need to change in order to achieve effective cross-sector collaboration

6.       exhibit a degree of shared governance between policy leads, commissioning agencies, service providers and service users

7.       have in one way or another challenged the status quo and led to genuine and sustainable innovations in thinking and practice

8.       demonstrate a set of learnings that might contribute to design improvements in existing or future projects, even though the case under study might have failed in some way to achieve its objectives.

A core deliverable of this project is to identify the key determinants of success and/or failure when it comes to working across sector boundaries for public purposes and to provide an evidential base for the promulgation of better practices.

Importantly, the proposers are not looking exclusively for ‘success stories’ (on the principle that much can be learned from projects that did not go quite as intended) nor are they exclusively concerned with the social, or community sector.  One might well expect that insights drawn from the experience of cross-sector working in policy domains such as health, conservation, employment, education, sport and recreation or arts and culture could well transfer across domain boundaries.

ANZSOG would be very appreciative of any suggestions and/or assistance you can offer the proposers in their efforts to identify potential cases.

If you have any thoughts on this matter, or if you would like to nominate one or more initiatives in your own jurisdiction for possible inclusion in this study, please contact Dr John Butcher at the following email address:

Furthermore, it would be useful to include in your response any relevant contact details for the initiatives you nominate (name of agency, contact persons, contact details, etc.) to enable the research team to follow up efficiently.