Hard bargains: a study of inter-agency collaboration in the provision of day care.

Ames, Janet Christine (1986). Hard bargains: a study of inter-agency collaboration in the provision of day care. MPhil thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000f7f8


This case study of a day care project has relevance for the development of policy and practice in work with the under fives. The policy interest lies in the collaboration between statutory and voluntary sectors in establishing the project. The practical interest lies in the examination of an initiative in day care. The two themes of inter-agency collaboration and innovation in day care are juxtaposed throughout the thesis. A major concern was to explore how grand designs for inter-agency collaboration are realised in practice. Some general propositions about inter-organisational behaviour are examined. The findings offer little support to the hypothesis that specific conditions - shared goals, complementary resources and efficient mechanisms for controlling exchanges - are necessary for successful collaboration. The case study suggests less stringent conditions. The commitment of key members of the organisations assumes greater importance.

The case study project was one amongst a number of community "experiments" in care for under fives undertaken in the 1970s and 1980s. During its first year, the project was found to be dominated by professional (rather than community) ideals; choices about how long children would spend at the project and how they would spend their time there were dictated largely by project staff; the choices available to project staff were limited by the rulings of the Manpower Services Commission as the main funding body; the stated ideal of creating a home from home was found to be inappropriate.

Some areas for further research are suggested. These are, first, more, detailed studies of the implications of agency collaboration for service delivery; secondly, more studies of Manpower Services Commission involvement in the funding of welfare provision; and, thirdly, more comparative studies investigating the early stages of setting up short term community and social work projects.

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