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Collaboration in English Local Government: Mapping Shared Services using Affiliation Network Analysis

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Dixon, Ruth; Elston, Thomas
Conference: Workshop on the Ostrom Workshop 6
Location: Indiana University, Bloomington
Conf. Date: June 19-21, 2019
Date: 2019
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/10446
Sector: Social Organization
Subject(s): collaboration
local governance and politics
Abstract: "Traditionally, joint provision of local public services by multiple councils working collaboratively has not been widely practiced in England. Unlike in Europe and the USA, where scale diseconomies have often prompted inter-local collaboration, English councils have long aspired to be 'self-sufficient.' But it appears no longer. In 2017, almost all local councils (97%) participated in one or more frontline or back-office 'shared service,' involving 338 distinct partnership arrangements. We analyse this new collaborative landscape by performing an exploratory affiliation network analysis on organizational and financial data for all 353 English councils. We examine factors predicting participation in inter-local collaborations, and the characteristics of the service networks that result, focusing on resource, organizational and political considerations. Our results indicate that the question for English local authorities is not 'whether' to collaborate but 'how' and 'with whom.' Partner choice is driven mainly by geographical proximity and similarity in organizational and resource characteristics."

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