Postprint of: Keast, R & Brown, KA 2006, 'Adjusting to new ways of working: experiments with service delivery in the public sector', Australian Journal of Public Administration, vol. 65, no.4, pp. 41-53.
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In response to the perceived failure of both the state and market models of service delivery, governments have embarked on a reform program that draws on the community sector to expand the suite of available policy and service delivery arrangements. This paper explores and identifies the nature of changed relationships between government and the community sector. It uses a case study that examines the operation of a new type of community organisation, and analyses the affectivity and outcomes from the experience of a community based networked arrangement. Although there is evidence of a shift to more relationship- oriented models of operation because of either mandate or preference both community and government sectors have found it difficult to make the necessary adjustments to these new ways of working. Community has begun the shift to this new relational approach but finds it difficult to sustain the momentum and tends to revert to more independent and competitive modes. Governments find it difficult to make the necessary adjustments to power-sharing and resource allocation and continue to operate as ‘business as usual’ through the traditional bureaucratic authority of command and control. In this way, the rhetoric of collaboration and partnership between government and the community sector is not necessarily matched by policy and action supporting the practice of ‘new ways of working’ although these ‘experiments in service delivery’ have opened the way for adopting more innovative and effective approaches to service delivery.