Collaborating to Manage

A Primer for the Public Sector

Robert Agranoff

"A good compromise between an organizational theory text geared to students and a practitioner handbook, offering both sound insight and, in its appendixes, instructive cases."
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Collaborating to Manage captures the basic ideas and approaches to public management in an era where government must partner with external organizations as well as other agencies to work together to solve difficult public problems. In this primer, Robert Agranoff examines current and emergent approaches and techniques in intergovernmental grants and regulation management, purchase-of-service contracting, networking, public/nonprofit partnerships and other lateral arrangements in the context of the changing public agency. As he steers the reader through various ways of coping with such organizational richness, Agranoff offers a deeper look at public management in an era of shared public program responsibility within governance.

Geared toward professionals working with the new bureaucracy and for students who will pursue careers in the public or non-profit sectors, Collaborating to Manage is a student-friendly book that contains many examples of real-world practices, lessons from successful cases, and summaries of key principles for collaborative public management.

Table of Contents


1. To Manage Is to Collaborate

2. Intergovernmentalization and Collaborative Public Management

3. Conductive Public Agencies

4. Forging External Agreements

5. Managing Agency Connections

6. Processing Deep Collaboration: Managing in Networks

7. Identifying and Overcoming the Barriers to Collaboration

8. The New Public Organization

9. Conclusion: Collaboration Works!


A. The Lower Platte River Corridor Alliance

B. Lower Platte River Regulatory Study Guide

C. Ten Challenges in Contract Management

D. Explicit Knowledge Management Activities

E. Tacit Knowledge Management Activities

F. Twenty-Two Public Values Contributed by Networks

G. Alternative Dispute Resolution Processes

H. Milestones in Metro School’s Development




"In a single venue and with great elegance, an integrated overview of the unique public management challenges of working with other organizations. In doing so, Agranoff helps answer the question of how to successfully develop collaborations in the complex environment that public managers face."—Public Administration Review

"A good compromise between an organizational theory text geared to students and a practitioner handbook, offering both sound insight and, in its appendixes, instructive cases."—Choice

"In a single, very readable volume, Agranoff presents an extremely well-informed discussion of collaborative multi-organizational arrangements that have become so central for addressing the complex tasks and problems often faced by government agencies and NGOs. By focusing especially on such critical issues as what approaches seem to work, what the challenges are, and how public managers might manage most effectively in such settings, Agranoff offers a valuable guide for both public and nonprofit professionals and students."—Keith Provan, McClelland Professor, The University of Arizona

"The genius of this book lies in Agranoff’s translation of his path-breaking research on collaborative public management to concrete, practical advice for those in the field. Highly recommended for those around the world who use or study collaboration as a management strategy."—Rosemary O'Leary, Distinguished Professor and Phanstiel Chair in Strategic Management and Leadership, The Maxwell School of Syracuse University

"This timely book offers scholars and managers alike a deep understanding of the actions and structures that forge collaboration across the many organizations that must work together to solve today's difficult public policy problems. The model of the 'conductive' organization offers a powerful and realistic roadmap for how today's bureaucracies can survive and thrive in meeting the collaborative public management challenge."—Paul Posner, George Mason University

"Agranoff’s book is the most comprehensive treatment of collaborative management for public administration."—Charles Wise, Founding Director, John Glenn School of Public Affairs, The Ohio State University

"Collaborating to Manage is a sweeping assessment of the numerous factors that support successful collaboration among public, private, and nonprofit organizations. For practitioners and students, it offers a wide range of strategies for managing in our current era of multi-sector governance. For faculty, it provides illuminating examples for sparking engaging classroom discussions about strategic management, and serves as a one-stop guide to the extensive literature on collaborative management."—Craig W. Thomas, Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs, University of Washington


Supplemental Materials


Winner of the 2014 Public and Nonprofit Division Best Book Award of the Academy of Management, the 2014 Louis Brownlow Book Award of the National Academy of Public Administration

About the Author

Robert Agranoff is professor emeritus in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University-Bloomington and is affiliated with the Instituto Universitario Ortega y Gasset in Madrid. He is the author of Managing within Networks and coauthor of Collaborative Public Management, which received the Louis Brownlow Book Award from the National Academy of Public Administration.

288 pp., 6 x 9
22 Boxes, 13 figures, 8 tables
Aug 2012

288 pp., 6 x 9
22 Boxes, 13 figures, 8 tables
ISBN: 978-1-58901-916-4
Aug 2012

288 pp.
22 Boxes, 13 figures, 8 tables
ISBN: 978-1-58901-917-1
Aug 2012

Public Management and Change series
Beryl A. Radin, Series Editor

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