Building a Collaborative Advantage
236 pages, 6 x 9
13 figures, 8 tables
Release Date:01 Jul 2017
Release Date:15 Oct 2016
Release Date:14 Nov 2016
Release Date:14 Nov 2016

Building a Collaborative Advantage

Network Governance and Homelessness Policy-Making in Canada

UBC Press

Homelessness is not a historical accident. We know that it is the disastrous outcome of policy decisions made over time and at several levels of government. Yet conventional theories in political science and public administration fail to explain why some approaches have worked while others have failed.

Drawing on network governance theory, extended participant observation, and more than sixty interviews with key policy figures, Carey Doberstein investigates how government and civil-society actors in three major Canadian cities have organized themselves to solve public problems. In Vancouver and Calgary, where governance networks include affordable-housing providers, mental health and addiction professionals, Aboriginal community members, representatives of drop-in centres, and others with lived experience, homelessness is on the decline. In Toronto, where government-level decision-making was closed to civil-society actors during the period of investigation, homelessness levels remained stagnant.

Doberstein concludes that having a progressive city council is not enough. Civil-society organizations and actors must have genuine access to the channels of government power in order to work with policy makers to develop innovative and comprehensive solutions. He reveals how program and system coordination and policy innovation are more likely to be generated from within such network governance structures – not imposed from above.

This book will be of interest to students and scholars of public policy, political science, and public administration and also to social-service providers and public-policy practitioners.

Building a Collaborative Advantage is an essential read for those interested in modern forms of governance and policy development. It also is an important contribution to the literature on homelessness, complementing recent research on the history of housing policy and the impact of advocacy networks on homelessness policy. Erin Dej, assistant professor, Department of Criminology, Wilfrid Laurier, BC Studies
By investigating the network properties of homelessness governance in three Canadian cities – Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary – Doberstein provides keen insights that not only contribute to existing network governance research but also offer practical solutions to the challenges of governing homelessness. The book is impressive in its theoretical scope and empirical depth. Charles Conteh, associate professor of political science at Brock University and author of Policy Governance in Multi-level Systems: Economic Development and Policy Implementation in Canada
Carey Doberstein adds considerably to debates on homelessness policy by shining a light on network governance theory and illustrating what happens when it is, and is not, put into action. Caroline Andrew, director of the Centre on Governance, University of Ottawa, and author of Accounting for Culture: Thinking through Cultural Citizenship

Carey Doberstein is an assistant professor of political science at UBC on the Okanagan campus. He has received awards and honours for his public policy research from the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC), Canadian Public Administration, and the Canadian Association of Programs in Public Administration (CAPPA).


1 The Homelessness Puzzle in Canada

2 Integrated Network Governance

3 Vancouver: Coordinated Regional Networks

4 Toronto: Bureaucratized Municipal Governance

5 Calgary: Corporate Network Governance

6 Building a Collaborative Advantage

7 Towards a Solution

Notes; References; Index

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