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Transforming into Open, Innovative and Collaborative Governments

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - TROPICO (Transforming into Open, Innovative and Collaborative Governments)

Reporting period: 2019-12-01 to 2021-11-30

The TROPICO project (Transforming into Open, Innovative and Collaborative Governments) aimed to comparatively examine how public administrations are transformed to enhance collaboration in policy design and service delivery, advancing the participation of public, private, and societal actors. It analyzed collaboration in and by governments, with a special emphasis on the use of information and communication technologies (ICT), and its consequences.

TROPICO analyzed institutional conditions shaping collaboration in Europe, individuals’ attitudes, skills, knowledge, and incentives for collaboration, collaboration practices in policy design within governments emphasizing the relevance of ICT, and examined the conditions and practices of collaboration in policy design involving public, private, and civil society actors and how user-knowledge is integrated with these processes. TROPICO further studied innovative collaboration practices in government service delivery, analyzed different types of partnerships in such innovative services, and assessed the impact of novel, open, and innovative collaboration practices on legitimacy, accountability, and government efficiency. A main objective was to discuss and reflect on key findings with stakeholders and users and advise policy-makers on the conditions, enablers, and barriers, as well as good practices for the transformation towards open, innovative and collaborative governments.
TROPICO studied collaborations within governments, and between public and private partners in ten countries with different administrative traditions across Europe, with a special emphasis on the challenges of governance in the digital era. The project conducted several literature reviews and meta-analyses, numerous in-depth case studies, larger surveys, and other assessments across these different collaborations, combining qualitative and quantitative social science research methods.

The work in TROPICO includes:
- A literature review on the use and understanding of collaboration as a concept in academic and public documents
- A collection of “codes of collaboration” in European constitutions, laws, and statutory instruments
- Discrete choice experiments in 5 European countries examining civil servants’ willingness to collaborate with private actors
- An academic expert survey on digitalization and collaboration in European governments
- In-depth case studies on e-participation initiatives in 7 European countries
- An analysis of national e-government/digitalization strategies in eight countries
- In-depth case studies of collaboration arrangements in government online platforms and smart city approaches in 5 European countries
- Analysis of leadership challenges in the context of collaboration and digital transformation
- Comparative case studies of collaborative eHealth projects in 5 European countries
- In-depth analysis of the conditions shaping collaborative partnerships for service innovation
- A literature review on legitimacy and accountability in the context of collaborative governance
- Comparative case studies of collaborative governance within employment policy
- A literature review of efficiency and red tape to understand how collaboration can reduce costs and improve service quality
- An assessment of organizational efficiency in public sector shared services
- An analysis of “best practices” examples of collaborations
- The identification of measures of efficiency and legitimacy in the development of an online Collaboration Monitor

The exploitable results from TROPICO include in total 52 TROPICO deliverables, so far 28 published articles in academic journals focusing on public administration and public management, 2 special issues (one of them is a virtual special issue available on the TROPICO website), a concluding White Paper, and an online tool for comparing collaborations – the Collaboration Monitor – available on the TROPICO website. The deliverables in the project include 17 research reports, 19 academic publications (including two edited volumes and one special issue in an academic journal), and 8 policy briefs. The project collected research data that was later made openly available through the TROPICO website and the Norwegian Centre for Research Data. TROPICO also organized two summits and one end conference during the project, featuring high-level practitioners from the public and private sector as well as worldwide renowned academics within the field of public administration and public management, and organized workshops and local events across 10 EU member states. Several of the events were held online because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the project period, TROPICO actively disseminated results and provided further reflections on the work through the TROPICO website and its blog, via social media, and in regular newsletters.
TROPICO makes progress beyond the current state of the art by:

- enhancing our conceptual knowledge on collaboration by mapping and analysing legal codes of collaboration and investigating the institutional conditions shaping collaboration in and by governments;

- improving the cross-national comparability of findings in the study of 10 European countries covering different administrative traditions;

- expanding and strengthening the available empirical data on collaboration, especially with regard to detecting causal mechanisms and providing novel quantitative and qualitative data;

- considering the diversity of views by key actors in collaboration (public managers, private stakeholders, and users);

- moving beyond analyses of specific collaborative practices to focus on major trends and generalizable results, informing policy recommendations with broad applicability;

- adding to the understanding of the attitudes, skills, knowledge, and incentives of civil servants, politicians, and citizen-users when collaborating with the private sector, including new knowledge on civil servants’ attitudes as drivers and barriers for collaboration;

- providing new empirical knowledge on how ICT impacts on policy design, government actors’ capabilities, preferences, and constellations;

- giving insight into practices of external collaboration in policy design, focusing on e-participation initiatives, providing a deeper understanding of drivers and barriers contributing to their success;

- producing new evidence on the linkages between digitalisation and intergovernmental collaboration through an analysis of national digitalisation strategies;

- providing new findings on collaborative management for ICT-enabled public sector innovation and a better understanding of leadership and collaboration challenges in partnerships in selected European countries;

- analyzing the effects of innovative collaborative practices on democratic legitimacy, public accountability and public sector efficiency;

- developing a unique online tool allowing users, practitioners, and researchers to easily access and compare good practices in innovative collaboration in policy design and service delivery.
TROPICO White Paper front page