Meta-Analysis of Collaboration and Performance: Moderating Tests of Sectoral Differences in Collaborative Performance
Professor Seunghyuck (David) Lee's recent work, "Meta-analysis of collaboration and performance: Moderating tests of sectoral differences in collaborative performance," was published in the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory in 2022. In this study, Prof. Lee and his colleague (Dr. ChiaKo Hung from the University of Hawaii at Manoa) synthesized 26 empirical studies on collaborative performance and applied meta-analytical techniques to the gathered data to examine the impact of collaboration on government performance. Further, they explored the potential moderating effect of sectoral differences in collaborative partnerships on collaborative performance.
Due to the growing complexity of social problems and the increasing demand for government intervention to provide better quality of public services aimed at mitigating these problems, governments are increasingly entering into collaborative partnerships with other organizations to enhance the effectiveness of their interventions. However, performance improvement and goal achievement as the key outcomes of collaboration are relatively unexplored in this context. With the aim of addressing this gap in pertinent literature, as a part of this research, the fundamental assumption that collaboration enhances governmental performance was tested, and the role of sectoral differences in collaborative partnerships was examined.
To gain insight into these phenomena, the empirical results yielded by 26 studies (with 251 effect sizes) focusing on collaborative performance were subjected to meta-analysis. This strategy was adopted, as it provides a more precise estimate of the overall effect of a particular intervention, in this case governmental collaboration. Most importantly, pooling the results of multiple studies often reveals new patterns and trends that may not be apparent if smaller samples are examined in the context of individual studies.
In this particular case, the meta-analytical approach confirmed the initial assumption that collaborative performance yields positive outcomes, which is also in line with the resource-dependence perspective. Specifically, when governments collaborate with organizations that possess critical resources that governments lack, they are better equipped to solve social problems. For example, when the Korean government imposed the social distancing rule during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic with the view of protecting public health, it partnered with organizations from both public and private sector to obtain the information necessary to execute this policy.
The meta-analyses, however, also confirmed that sectoral differences in collaborative partnerships (i.e., public−public, public−business, public−nonprofit, and mixed) influence performance. By applying the transaction costs approach and meta-regression models, the authors found that governments can expect better outcomes from mixed collaborations or those involving other public organizations, as public−nonprofit and public−business collaborative partnerships tend to increase the costs in multiple stages of collaboration, thus hindering performance.
These findings indicate that careful partner selection is crucial, as the potential benefits of collaboration may be undermined by high costs, especially if there is a considerable dissonance in beliefs and values. If this is the case, collaborating with other public organizations to address complex social issues (e.g., the environment, education, health, etc.) is preferable. These insights are noteworthy, given that prior studies in this context focused on the managerial and procedural difficulties as the primary obstacles to collaboration effectiveness, while failing to account for the role of sectoral differences in this relationship.
Therefore, by synthesizing existing empirical research on this highly relevant topic, they highlighted the implications of partner selection for collaborative governance in the public sector. Specifically, they provided empirical evidence, supported by the resource dependence and transaction costs theories, indicating that collaboration outcomes are highly dependent on the governments’ ability to control costs, which can be achieved by a careful selection of partners that share the common goals and values as well as possess the required resources. This investigation is thus a valuable starting point for future studies aimed at identifying strategies governments can adopt to lower the cross-sector collaboration costs.
* Related Article
David Lee, ChiaKo Hung, Meta-Analysis of Collaboration and Performance: Moderating Tests of Sectoral Differences in Collaborative Performance, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Volume 32, Issue 2, April 2022, Pages 360–379