Collaborative Leadership

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The Leadership Quarterly 21 (2010) 211–230

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The Leadership Quarterly
j o u r n a l h o m e p a g e : w w w. e l s ev i e r. c o m / l o c a t e / l e a q u a

Integrative leadership and the creation and maintenance of cross-sector collaborations Barbara C. Crosby ⁎, John M. Bryson
Center for Integrative Leadership and Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota

a r t i c l e

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a b s t r a c t
This article presents a theoretical framework for understanding integrative leadership and the creation and maintenance of cross-sector collaborations that create public value. We define integrative leadership as bringing diverse groups and organizations together in semipermanent ways — and typically across sector boundaries — to remedy complex public problems and achieve the common good. Our framework highlights in particular the leadership roles and activities of collaboration sponsors and champions. The framework is illustrated with examples from the development of MetroGIS, a geographic information system that promotes better public problem-solving in the Minneapolis–St. Paul region of the US. A set of propositions is offered to guide further research and to prompt reflective practice. © 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Integrative leadership Cross-sector collaboration Collaborative leadership Public value Public leadership

Many major public problems or challenges — such as global warming, HIV/AIDS, economic development, poverty, and homelessness — can be addressed effectively only if many organizations collaborate. Collaborators would include governments certainly, but often must include businesses, nonprofit organizations, foundations, higher education institutions, and community groups as well. Leaders and managers in government organizations thus face the need to inspire, mobilize, and sustain their own agencies, but also to engage numerous other partners in their problem-solving efforts. As we see it, this is the basic challenge of integrative public leadership — defined as bringing diverse groups and organizations together in semi-permanent ways, and typically across sector boundaries, to remedy complex public problems and achieve the common good. We have argued elsewhere that such problems are often due to the characteristic failings of government, business, and civil society and that sustainable remedies must draw on the characteristic strengths of each sector while overcoming or minimizing their weaknesses (Bryson & Crosby, 2008). In other words, the power to adopt and actually deliver effective solutions is shared among sectors and organizations within the sectors. Integrative public leaders will have to lead across sector boundaries to foster the requisite relationships and resource flows needed to produce desirable outcomes. Several analysts (e.g., Cleveland, 2002; Crosby & Bryson, 2005) have provided insights about leadership in this “shared-power, noone-wholly-in-charge world,” an increasingly apt descriptor in the early years of the 21st century. Scholars also have made headway in considering the implications for government power, authority, and responsibility in such a world. What does it mean, they have asked, when so-called “public” problems spill beyond government's power and authority, yet citizens still look to democratic governments to help solve them? Cleveland (1977, 1993, 2002) was among those who a few decades ago first began popularizing the term “governance” to describe arrangements (regimes) in which government bodies share power with other types of organizations to create significant achievements of lasting public value (Kettl, 2002, 2009; Light, 2002; Osborne, 2010). A substantial body of scholarship now describes how public administrators create and manage collaborations among governments, businesses, and nonprofits. Indeed, collaborative public management has become a hot topic (e.g.,...
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