Gender Based Barriers to Effective Collaboration: A Case Study on Children Safeguard Partnerships
The network paradigm in public administration enjoys an unprecedented popularity under the New Labour Government, which has translated it into the widespread practice of delivering through partnership. Multidisciplinary cooperation amongst agencies in any given policy area has become a key process of service delivery in the UK, with numerous undisputed benefits. However, in the children safeguard realm, multi-agency working is as much a blessing as it is a threat, for it incubates potential for service failure. The fact that the duty of cooperation amongst professionals in the area of child protection has become a statutory practice this year –while it is not so in most other policy areas- can represent a good indication that the organisations engaged in childcare activities have an inherent difficulty to work with each other. This theory has been tested through a case study that analyses the patterns of collaboration amongst the agencies involved in children safeguard, in Sefton Metropolitan Borough, mainly by means of are semi-structured interviews and non-participant observation. The main findings of our empirical investigations suggest that gender is an important factor that is prone to impede communication among the parties involved. One reason for this is the fact that the organisations that are asked to cooperate in the childcare realm are being structured around gender stereotyped professions (e,g,: policemen in the police force, nurses in an NHS Trust). Another reason for it is that even the policy area on which the professional interactions take place is gender-bounded. Our paper aims to assess gender-related barriers to effective collaboration within child protection partnerships. It will do that by setting a context for gendered professions and for inter-professional communication and then assessing inter-organisational obstacles to effective collaboration against wider understandings of gender representation, critical mass, contagion, and gender based behavioural variations.
Keywords: Gender, Inter-Organisational Working, Inter-Professional Communication, Children Safeguard
Prof. Laura McAllister
MPA Programme Director, Faculty of Social and Environmental Studies
PhD student, University of Liverpool Management School, University of Liverpool
My wider research interest areas are: innovation in governance, inter-professional communication, partnerships, the role of networks in complex systems, organisational learning and crisis incubation in the public sector.