Collaborative Governance Draws from Diverse Realms of Practice and Research in Public Strategic Management Essay, SUSS

An Integrative Framework for Collaborative Governance


Collaborative governance draws from diverse realms of practice and research in public administration. This article synthesizes and extends a suite of conceptual frameworks, research findings, and practice-based knowledge into an integrative framework for collaborative governance. The framework specifies a set of nested dimensions that encompass a larger system context, a collaborative governance regime, and its internal collaborative dynamics and actions that can generate impacts and adaptations across the systems.

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Collaborative governance has become a common term in the public administration literature, yet its definition remains amorphous and its use inconsistent. Moreover, the variation in the scope and scale of perspectives on collaborative governance restricts the ability of researchers to further develop and test the theory.

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As a general term, ‘‘governance’’ refers to the act of governing, be it in the public and/or private sector. Within the context of collective action, Ostrom (1990) considers governance as a dimension of jointly determined norms and rules designed to regulate individual and group behavior. O’Leary, Bingham, and Gerard (2006, 7) define governance as the ‘‘means to steer the process that influences decisions and actions within the private, public, and civic sectors.’’ More specifically, governance is ‘‘a set of coordinating and monitoring activities’’ that enables the survival of the collaborative partnership or institution (Bryson, Crosby, and Stone 2006).


In order to develop a useful framework for collaborative governance with which to better understand, develop, and test theory, as well as improve practice, we needed to explore and synthesize a broad array of literature. This included work in many different applied fields, such as public administration, planning, conflict management, and environmental governance among others.

Figure 1 The Integrative Framework for Collaborative Governance

Figure 1: The Integrative Framework for Collaborative Governance


Although the literature broadly recognizes that the ‘‘conditions present at the outset of collaboration can either facilitate or discourage cooperation among stakeholders and between agencies and stakeholders’’ (Ansell and Gash 2008, 550), many frameworks tend to conflate system context and conditions with the specific drivers of collaboration (e.g., Ansell and Gash 2008; Bentrup 2001; Thomson and Perry 2006; for an exception, see Bryson, Crosby, and Stone 2006).


Create a framework that integrates the various strategic management theories (in whole or in part) for improving government performance, and thus makes it relevant to your organization. Explain your integration, why it is relevant, and how will it be implemented.

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