Collaborative Entrepreneur and Collaborative Manager: The New Leadership Roles in Forming and Sustaining Local Government Collaboration



Collaboration is widely accepted as an effective policy for improving the capacity and efficiency of small local governments in delivering services, without decreasing the quality of local democracy that such small local authorities can provide. This article is drawn on a critical review of the literature on collaboration. It argues that inter-local government collaboration means a new form of management organization and public services shifting from bureaucratic, hierarchical managements to governance by, horizontal arrangements. To achieve successful and sustainable collaborative working relationships across professional and organisational boundaries, local leaders, either political, managerial or both, are required to play new leadership roles. Essentially, they must effectively play various, boundary spanning roles at different stages of cross-council collaboration. At the formulation stage of the collaboration policy, local leaders must play the role of collaborative entrepreneurs, who are competent to develop new collaboration solutions, build trust and coalition among putative partners who are facing common issues or have shared interests to work in collaboration. Although collaborative entrepreneurs may be successful in initiating collaboration policy, they may not necessarily have competencies to maintain cross-council working relation- ships. Rather, to sustain cross-council collaboration after it has been formed, leaders are required to efficiently exercise the role of collaborative managers who are competent to facilitate inter- agency working relationship, secure long-term commitment, and contributions of partnering councils to shared goals, maintain sustainability of the cross-council working, and gear further integration across councils. The distinction between these two boundary spanning roles had seldom been discussed in the literature. Hence, identifying and distinguishing these new leadership roles will offer valuable insights, conceptually for local governments seeking to enter into collaboration and wishing to have enduring, cross- council working relationships.

Key Words: local government collaboration, boundary spanners, collaborative leadership

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