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Achieving Better Social Outcomes in New Zealand Through Collaboration: Perspectives from the United States

Dovey, Lynne
June 4, 2015

Source: (2003) Working Paper No.16. Wellington: State Services Commission, New Zealand Public Service. Downloaded 25 January 2005.

This paper examines the topic of improving social outcomes in New Zealand through
collaboration between government and communities where children, young people and
families are at risk. Public concern has mounted about the incidence of child abuse and
neglect, youth suicide and pockets of poor educational performance among specific
population groups in New Zealand. A review of relevant literature suggests that a
systems approach is required, if public service and community leaders are to be
successful in responding to these problems. Two frameworks are put forward for social
systems change, one at a conceptual level and one at an operational level for practical
application in New Zealand. These frameworks draw on the reinventing government
work of David Osborne and Peter Plastrik and the systems thinking work of Peter Senge.
To learn how similar issues are being tackled in the United States, two case studies were
selected. The first case study is about an innovative non-profit organization in Chelsea,
Massachusetts, called Roca, Inc. and the impact it is having on social outcomes and on
the way state agencies think about social problems. The second case study examines
legislative measures in Oregon to improve social outcomes through collaboration.
The research demonstrates that in a systemic approach both bottom up and top down
approaches to collaboration are important, as are outcomes planning, performance
measurement and a mix of strategies to address underlying problems. There are deeper
implications for change within our public management system, however, if collaboration
is to be truly successful. These include moving to power sharing and joint accountability
arrangements and extending the role of government to that of enabler. Methods of
underpinning these new approaches include creating incentives for collaboration, longer
term, relational contracting and distributed leadership. Author’s abstract.


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