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The CURA publications library is currently being digitized by the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy. When the project is complete, the entire CURA publications library will be online and fully searchable. Unfortunately, during this process we are not able to honor individual requests for publications . Additionally, we no longer have physical copies of publications to send out.

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Partnerships and Policy Implementation: Lessons from an Experiment in Ramsey County.

Stone, Melissa M.

Whether created voluntarily or by government mandate, partnerships and collaborations are now common forms of institutional life. The often-expressed hope is that they will design more efficient service-delivery systems and stimulate creative problem solving. However, they are complex, difficult to manage, and often fall short of achieving their goals. This article analyzes the Community Employment Partnership (CEP), an experimental approach to implementing welfare reform in Ramsey County, Minnesota, to further understand when and how public-private partnerships are effective tools to implement public policy. The author describes three distinct phases in CEP's evolution and discusses several themes underlying the partnership's efforts. First, throughout CEP's development, the economic and political environment exerted significant influence over CEP. At times, external factors such as a booming economy and pressures to rapidly implement welfare reform facilitated CEP's work; at other times, these factors constrained the partnership. A second theme concerns the interaction of formal and informal authority. To encourage change from the bottom up, CEP chose to operate with informal authority through horizontal networks of partners. However, it needed cooperation and leadership from formal institutions that were legally charged with implementing welfare reform and workforce system changes. Relationships between CEP and formal institutions were never clear, and relationships between CEP and its network partners were sometimes strained, undermining CEP's ability to create change. The third theme concerns shifting definitions of the problem CEP was trying to solve and, importantly, who was perceived as having a legitimate stake in defining the problem. Over time, the definition of the problem changed significantly, as did the types of groups most involved in problem definition. From this discussion, the article draws several general lessons about the role of partnerships in implementing public policy.

CURA Reporter
Publication date: 
Minneapolis: Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, University of Minnesota.
Supported by the Ramsey County Community Employment Partnership.
34 (1): 13-19
Online availability
Download from CURA: 
CURA call number: 
Reporter 34 (1)

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