The Paradox of Bureaucratic Collaboration Government Bureaucracies in Robust Collaboration with the Public

  •  Carie Fox    
  •  Philip Murphy    


When a government agency engages in robust public participation, it puts bureaucratic culture at risk. Yet agencies do, sometimes, engage successfully in collaboration. The Paradox of Bureaucratic Collaboration suggests that an agency will be willing to engage in robust collaboration if the temporary disruption to bureaucratic systems helps the agency to become more perfectly bureaucratic in the long run. By applying systems perspectives to bureaucracy, this paper assists collaboration designers and would-be participants to understand when bureaucracies might not—or should not—collaborate robustly, to identify the opportunities for robust collaboration that prove the exception and, where robust collaboration is viable, to minimize bureaucratic risk while maximizing overall collaboration benefits.

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