Barriers and Responses
Edited by Richard D. Margerum and Cathy J. Robinson
Chapter 12: Collaboration across boundaries in the Indian Forest Service
The challenges of collaborating in the Indian Forest Service (IFS) include hierarchical structure, misalignment of interests, different organization cultures, clashing time horizons, numerous stakeholders, low accountability, complex political environments, frequent transfers of personnel, low trust, lack of transparency, inability to see collaborative advantage, lack of public service motivation, and lack of collaborative attributes or skills. To further understand these challenges, we surveyed 140 senior IFS officers and found that 91 percent indicate an effort to use collaboration as a management and leadership strategy to help them improve outcomes by leveraging resources and providing a catalyst for innovation. In an attempt to improve the success of these collaboration efforts, we developed a hypothesis for future research based on what we call the Need-Attitude-Skillset (NAS) theory. We conclude that collaboration can take place even in a highly regimented, hierarchical organizational culture, but not without significant challenges. More important than strong authority, pressure, and mandates is: (1) an articulated need to collaborate; (2) public service motivation coupled with an attitude that sees collaborative advantage; and (3) a strong collaborative problem solving-skillset that emphasizes communication.
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