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Publication details

Rogers-Bell, C 2009, 'Government department core business - managing the impact of potential conflicts on regional development projects and programs', PhD thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.

Copyright C Rodgers-Bell 2009


This research investigated core business conflict that occurs amongst government agencies when working together in regional development projects and initiatives. The intent is to develop methods to manage this conflict and so enhance the delivery of regional development outcomes. The research problem explored is: ‘Government Department core business – managing the impact of potential conflicts on regional development projects and programs’

The research involves three discipline areas – Government and governance, public sector management practices, and regional development. Government agency (GA) core business is determined by Government and delivered using public sector management practices that have shaped individual agency’s strategic plans, processes and systems for core business delivery. Regional development involves multiple agencies delivering their core business outcomes that contribute to regional development. Due to the focus by each agency on their own core business, core business conflict can occur when agencies work together.

A literature review did not uncover literature or research about GA core business conflict, therefore this is a new area of investigation. The literature studies and reports investigated and discussed a related area – issues and impediment to Whole-of- Government (WOG) and ‘joined-up’ government initiatives.

A qualitative inquiry methodology is used to build knowledge about this new area. The sample of participants is drawn from GAs’ staff who are involved in regional development projects and programs, or projects and programs that contribute to regional development. Data collection is through interviews and surveys with GAs’ representatives from 18 agencies, across three levels of Government and from two distinctly different regions (coastal and inland).

Two aspects of core business conflict are investigated – fundamental core business conflict that involves the underpinning philosophy and ideology of an agency, and functional/operational core business conflicts that include the strategic plans, policies, procedures and systems involved in delivery of core business, which also influence the design of program and project guidelines, and determine funding and staff resourcing.

Research findings contribute new knowledge and expand current knowledge regarding challenges and barriers to agencies working together. Findings also enhance the application of approaches and tools to facilitate effective WOG and collaborative agency work.

The research has resulted in a ‘process’ model to resolve the research problem that applies a holistic and comprehensive operational approach to addressing core business conflict. The ‘process’ model builds on the research findings and draws on information and tools from the literature.

The research has implications for theory, policy and practice in the three discipline areas involved in the research problem and as a new area investigated, has generated further research opportunities.