Document Type

Conference publication

Publication details

Keast, RL, Glasby, J & Brown, KA 2009, 'Inter-agency working: good intentions and interaction dynamics', 13th International Research Society for Public Management Conference (IRSPM XIII), Fredericksberg, Denmark, 6-8 April, IRSPM.


This paper explores inter-agency working and examines the implications of inter-agency operations for delivering multi-domain service outcomes. Cross-agency collaborative approaches to service delivery are suggested to provide the vehicle for achieving integrated service and policy goals. However, it is argued these need to be crafted ‘fit’ for purpose’ and may not be the requisite approach for all joint purposes. Moreover, some commentators suggest that the optimism about these partnership arrangements and cross-agency actions to resolve complex multi-dimensional problems may be misplaced and propose that further research into the actual rather than desired consequences of these arrangements may find that, at times, partnership working creates negative effects.

While collaboration and partnerships are often framed as the way to achieve real breakthroughs in service delivery across agencies, there remain key challenges to interagency working. As more and insistent calls for agencies and other community actors to work together in resolving complex social problems are heeded, the implications of working across organizational boundaries need to be further investigated. This paper investigates cases of inter-agency programmes to understand the dimensions and limitations of inter-agency working. The paper concludes by offering a framework for better inter-agency working that has applicability across all sectors.

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