Despite considerable evaluator investment in examining partnership activity in UK public policy initiatives, little attention has been paid to the role of strategy in supporting the generation and harnessing of the resources necessary to collaborate effectively. This paper focuses on one of the first New Labour initiatives - Health Action Zones (HAZ) - and draws on national evaluation findings to delineate local strategies, assess their application in practice and reflect on their contribution to collaborative action. The paper argues that even within nationally constrained policy initiatives there is sufficient flexibility for local actors to select strategies to steer collaborative effort, but these strategies are informed by their operating context and are liable to change in response to experience and changes in context. In addition, the evaluation findings suggest that effective strategies are those which harness collaborative capacity across a range of dimensions. The paper concludes by identifying implications for theory, policy and evaluation.