Chapter 12: Breakdown of inter-organizational cooperation: the case of regional councils in Norway
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Chapter 12 analyses what causes the breakdown of newly established politico-administrative orders. Following increased cooperation across territorial and administrative borders, research on successful Inter-Organizational Relations (IORs) – such as networks, joint ventures, alliances and partnerships – has grown considerably. Still, knowledge about what factors and events lead to their breakdown is scarce. In fact, there is little knowledge on how to conceptualize breakdown, how to distinguish it from radical change or even symbolic changes in appearance. The chapter offers a conceptualization of the breakdown of cooperation, and discusses how to measure it empirically. Moreover, this chapter outlines explanatory variables of breakdown in three groups: structural, contextual and process based. Finally, the chapter conducts a comparative empirical evaluation of four similar inter-municipal cooperative arrangements in Norway (called regional councils) – two of which experienced a breakdown and two which are still in fully functional. Regional councils are voluntary arrangements, products of bottom-up processes, and thus not mandated by central government. Furthermore, they are multifunctional, involved in spatial and social planning, coordination of regional initiatives regarding common regional resources (water, transport, culture etc.), and sometimes initiating and overseeing inter-municipal service delivery with the aim of optimizing regional potential and minimizing risk and costs.

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