A comparative study of 'joined-up' working in three regeneration programme case studies
This research concerns the development of coordination and co-governance within three different regeneration programmes within one Midlands city over the period from 1999 to 2002. The New Labour government, in office since 1997, had an agenda for ‘joining-up’ government, part of which has had considerable impact in the area of regeneration policy. Joining-up government encompasses a set of related activities which can include the coordination of policy-making and service delivery. In regeneration, it also includes a commitment to operate through co-governance. Central government and local and regional organisations have sought to put this idea into practice by using what may be referred to as network management processes. Many characteristics of new policies are designed to address the management of networks. Network management is not new in this area, it has developed at least since the early 1990s with the City Challenge and Single Regeneration Budget (SRB) programmes as a way of encouraging more inclusive and effective regeneration interventions. Network management theory suggests that better management can improve decision-making outcomes in complex networks. The theories and concepts are utilised in three case studies as a way of understanding how and why regeneration attempts demonstrate real advances in inter-organisational working at certain times whilst faltering at others. Current cases are compared to the historical case of the original SRB programme as a method of assessing change. The findings suggest that: * The use of network management can be identified at all levels of governance. As previous literature has highlighted, central government is the most important actor regarding network structuring. However, it can be argued that network structuring and game management are both practised by central and local actors; * Furthermore, all three of the theoretical perspectives within network management (Instrumental, Institutional and Interactive), have been identified within UK regeneration networks. All may have a role to play with no single perspective likely to succeed on its own. Therefore, all could make an important contribution to the understanding of how groups can be brought together to work jointly; * The findings support Klijn’s (1997) assertion that the institutional perspective is dominant for understanding network management processes; * Instrumentalism continues on all sides, as the acquisition of resources remains the major driver for partnership activity; * The level of interaction appears to be low despite the intentions for interactive decision-making; * Overall, network management remains partial. Little attention is paid to the issues of accountability or to the institutional structures which can prevent networks from implementing the policies designed by central government, and/or the regional tier.