AM08 2008 START Conference Manager    

Collaboration Networks in a Public Service Model: Dimensions of Effectiveness in Theory and in Practice

Barbara Schultz-Jones and Nancy Cheung

ASIS&T 2008 Annual Meeting (AM08 2008)
Columbus, Ohio, October 24-29, 2008


With this poster, we present both researcher and practitioner responses to the results of a research study designed to answer the research question: to what extent does social network theory explain the success of the public administration model called Neighbourhood Integrated Service Teams (NIST). The municipal government for the City of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada designed and implemented the model in 1995 to strengthen community partnerships by connecting city services to the neighborhoods. Since then, they have defined program effectiveness in terms of reduced citizen problems, with more than a 60% decrease of citizen complaints to City Council since the program began.

In this study, the examination of information exchanges within the NIST program occurred across multiple network layers. The research examined the full NIST network with emphasis on collaboration exchanges across the entire network and within the 16 network teams. Data collection included documentation review, a survey of the NIST membership, field observation, and semi-structured interviews with the City Manager, NIST coordinator, and representatives of one department.

Social network analysis was used to map the relationships of network members and social network theory was applied to the results. Sociograms represent the interactions across and within the networks. The results of the analysis demonstrated the pattern of information flows and the behavior of collaboration across the networks. These results were presented to the full NIST membership, including the NIST coordinator and City Manager.

The research results demonstrate that collaboration network effectiveness extends beyond the realization of one organizational goal, encompassing contextual benefits unrecognized without an examination of the information environment. The combination of researcher and practitioner perspectives provides a more complete view of the collaboration networks operating within information environments and informs a broader consideration of network effectiveness dimensions.

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