Several different models of integrated and shared service delivery have been adopted in both Australia and overseas. The Strengthening NGOs report (2005) and other literature suggests that the NGO sector in Australia has been using collaborative arrangements and variations of the shared service model for many years. However, there are few detailed case studies of
the implementation of shared and collaborative services and little literature on this topic related to the not for profit sector has been published (Lennie, 2007; Walsh et al, 2008).
A useful way of understanding concepts such as ‘collaboration’, ‘coordination’ and integration’ is to see them as a continuum or scale, from ‘autonomy’ through to ‘integration’, as shown in Table 1 below.
| Agencies act without reference to each other, although the actions
of one may affect the other(s)
|Agencies establish ongoing ties and
provide limited support to an activity undertaken
by the other agency. Communication and sharing information is emphasised. Requires a willingness to work together for common goals, goodwill and some mutualunderstanding.
|Separate partners plan the alignment of their activities. Duplication of
activities and resources is minimised. Requires agreed plans and protocols or the appointment of a coordinator or manager.
|Partners put their resources into a pool for a common purpose, but remain separate. Responsibility for using the pooled resources is shared by each of them. Requires common
goals and philosophy and agreed plans and governance and administrative arrangements.
|Links between separate agencies draw them into a single system. Boundaries between the agencies dissolve as they merge some or all of their activities, processes or assets.
|Examples include learning and information sharing networks and open access to each others facilities and services.||Examples include the appointment of a hub coordinator to provide strong links between existing child care services, or developing joint funding proposals
for new coordinated programs.
|Examples include the establishment of shared service centres or developing joint management structures.
||Examples include preventative or community-based place management programs. It can also involve the merger of similar agencies to form a
single larger organisation.
Table 1: The continuum of integration
(adapted from Cairns et al., 2003; Fine et al., 2005, p.4 and the SNGO Fact Sheet on Shared and Collaborative Arrangements)
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