Managerial perceptions of local collaboration : the Ontario Healthy Babies/Healthy Children example

Dunlop, Judith M. (2002) Managerial perceptions of local collaboration : the Ontario Healthy Babies/Healthy Children example. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
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Abstract

This research study explored state mandated local collaboration in the Healthy Babies/Healthy Children (HBHC) Program in Ontario. A conceptual framework was developed from the theoretical and empirical literature on interorganizational relations, collaboration and community social work practice. Qualitative content analysis was used to examine managers' perceptions of the environmental pre-conditions and interactional processes that influenced local collaboration in HBHC networks, within the context of federal funding reductions and the province of Ontario's downloading of financial responsibility to municipalities. -- Analysis resulted in the reconceptualization of the conceptual framework into six themes of collaboration. Three environmental pre-conditions were: 1) Historical Conditions, 2) Institutional Conditions, and 3) Financial Conditions while three collaborative processes were: 4) Operational Processes, 5) Organizational Processes and 6) Relational Processes. -- This study confirmed that a history of working together locally was an important influence on collaboration, suggesting that collaboration may be a learned practice skill requiring commitment, loyalty and time. This study also confirmed that central government mandates for collaboration are not as important as local autonomy and decision making. The data suggested that central governments should resist a cookie cutter approach. The province did not recognize the need for administrative resources. This lack of administrative funding for the HBHC program drained the resources of public health units/departments and the HBHC managers. In addition, the exclusive funding through public health units/departments created some local resistance. The findings confirmed that the rewards of membership in a collaborative network can outweigh associated demands. This study mirrors the variation in formalization reported in the collaboration literature. Most HBHC managers believed that collaboration is facilitated when network members all have similar decisionmaking power for their organizations. Two new collaborative process themes (Organizational and Relational) emerged. The organization of HBHC networks was not top down. Local sites decided how to structure their HBHC network. The organizing process increased stakeholder representativeness, communication and decision-making. Existing interpersonal relationships were important in the development of HBHC networks. Most had established patterns of working together and shaped the HBHC network to fit the existing local culture of informality or formality. -- The management skills needed to facilitate interorganizational collaboration are not exclusive to any group be they public health nurses or social workers. As governments increasingly mandate collaboration as a mechanism for integrating health and social services, social workers will need managerial competencies in collaborative practice at institutional and community levels. While it appears that public health managers were unaware of social work community practice models, this study illustrates the need for a renewed commitment among social work practitioners and educators to rebuild community social work practice.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/1256
Item ID: 1256
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 261-289.
Department(s): Social Work, School of
Date: 2002
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Ontario
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Social work administration--Ontario; Public health administration--Decentralization--Ontario

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