Collaborative Governance and Unemployment in New Zealand: Two Case Studies
Long-term unemployment is a significant problem for Governments and communities. It demands innovative and agile policy responses, including those that involve community partners. However, research has shown that for the New Zealand Government to achieve collaboration, deep change in institutional arrangements is required. This thesis investigates collaborative governance as an alternative paradigm, drawing on the Community Employment Group and Mayors Taskforce for Jobs initiatives as case studies. It explores the leadership styles and behaviours, participatory processes and accountability mechanisms that enabled ongoing and iterative community solving to address long-term unemployment.
Analysis of the case studies found that: the leaders wrote their own rulebooks, and as such, accountability and participatory mechanisms were inextricably intertwined with the personality, skills, competencies and preferences of the leader; the transparency of accountability arrangements were critical to the survival of the initiatives, and the informal mechanisms were at least as important as formal mechanisms; and that participation can be a much looser arrangement than that suggested in the collaborative governance literature. These cases showed that there is little room for complacency in collaborative governance. Tenacious and visionary leadership, formal and informal accountability mechanisms that give legitimacy to the initiative and frequent, genuine and open communication by all parties combine as key factors to sustain ongoing and iterative problem solving to address long-term unemployment.