Partnership, politics and public administration: a case study of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
Robbins, Sharon B.
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Efforts to reform the public sector reflect the social, political and economic environment within which government must function. The recent demands by the public for more consensual decision-making, as well as more efficient, effective and responsive public service, have resulted in a number of reform initiatives, including an emphasis on partnership development. The purpose of this thesis is to examine partnership arrangements within the public sector. Specifically, the thesis will assess the value of partnerships and their impact on government by examining six partnership arrangements involving the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR). The OMNR, having recently been awarded the 1992 Institute of Public Administration of Canada Award for Innovative Management, on the theme of partnership development, is being lauded as an example for other government agencies considering similar alliances. The thesis begins by introducing the concept and practice of partnership within the public sector in general and the OMNR specifically. Descriptive analysis of six OMNR partnerships is provided and a number of criteria are used to determine the success of each of these arrangements. Special attention is paid to the political implications of partnerships and to those attributes which appear to contribute to the successful establishment and iii maintenance of partnership arrangements. The conclusion is drawn that partnerships provide the government with an opportunity to address public demands for greater involvement in decision-making while accommodating government's limited financial resources. However, few truly collaborative partnerships exist within the public sector. There are also significant political implications associated with partnerships which must be dealt with both at the political and bureaucratic levels of government. Lastly, it is argued that while partnerships within the OMNR are experiencing some difficulties, they constitute a genuine attempt to broaden the base of decision-making and to incorporate the concerns of stakeholders into resource management.
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