Intergovernmental relations at the local level : a study of the London Borough of Camden
This is a study of the relationships between the local authority and 18 other public authorities providing services in the London Borough of Camden. It is based on qualitative data collected by interviewing 70 individuals who were either senior managers or members of the authorities studied. The fieldwork was carried out between 1985 and 1987. The study identifies the lack of a well-defined body of literature or theory of horizontal inter-govern- mental relations at the local level. The research design draws upon previous studies in the fields of operational research, local government studies, policy studies, political theory, organisational studies and inter-governmental relations. The study demonstrates that the provision of public services in Camden was highly functionally fragmented. There were high levels of interdependence among the authorities studied explained by the socioeconomic environment of the area and the distribution of powers within the local government system. Interdependence was complex and multi-dimensional. The extent of linkages among public authorities was not great. Ad hoc and informal linkages played an important role. The patchiness of linkages could be explained by organisational and political factors. The local authority did not play a central co-ordinating role in the network. Authorities pursued a hierarchy of overlapping goals. Inter-authority activity was sustained by a process of mutual goal fulfilment. Relationships between public authorities were seen to be highly desirable but very difficult to undertake. The public authority network was widely regarded as ineffective in tackling complex public service issues. A number of wider conclusions are drawn from the study. These include the utility of the concepts of a public authority network and the process of mutual goal fulfilment. The need for revision of theories of the interdependence of public authorities and the nature of the network linking local authorities and other public authorities is demonstrated. The study also raises questions about the validity of policy makers' assumptions about the way local and other public authorities behave and casts doubt on the ability of some local authorities to perform an enabling role.