Getting the right mix: unpacking integration meanings and strategies

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Keast, R, Brown, KA & Mandell, MP 2007, 'Getting the right mix: unpacking integration meanings and strategies', International Public Management Journal, vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 363-371.

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ntegration has emerged as having an increasingly significant role in public policy discourse and practice in many jurisdictions across the globe. In providing a different framework for establishing relationships between service providers and citizens and government, horizontal integration arrangements offer the prospect of delivering new ways of working and providing solutions to seemingly insolvable social problems. Ways of achieving horizontal integration have been variously described by linkage terms such as cooperation, coordination, and collaboration. These terms have been typically used interchangeably to describe the coming together of individuals to work in concerted effort to achieve common goals.We argue that each of these terms, expressed as the “3Cs,” are different and consequently achieve different objectives. This paper explores the use of the “3Cs” and examines the differences highlighted by practitioners in the human services arena to extend the understanding of constructs relating to integration mechanisms. It is contended that in focusing on the experiences of integration and unpacking the use and expectations of the related “3Cs,” public administrators and practitioners will gain an enhanced understanding of each of the processes of integration as a coherent framework. As a consequence, there will be improved ability to match appropriate integration mechanisms with contexts and strategies.