Creating joined-up government: Challenging intuitive logic

Gemma Carey, Bradley R Crammond

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    The aspiration to link different parts of government is not a new goal; it is, in fact, one of the oldest preoccupations in public administration (6 1997; Pollitt 2003). However, the packaging of these ideas as ‘joined-up government’ by the Blair Government in 1997 brought such approaches to the fore amongst commonwealth countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada (6 1997; Christensen and Laegreid 2007; O’Flynn 2009). Joined-up government continues to have both political appeal and policy relevance, as governments continue to search for ways to address wicked policy problems. Broadly, joined-up government seeks to improve the efficacy of policies by removing tensions and contradictions, to create more efficient use of resources, improve cooperation, and provide citizens with more integrated services (Pollitt 2003). Joined-up government (JUG) is an umbrella term; how ‘joining-up’ is done depends on both the nature of the problem and the government (Davies 2009; Richards 2001). At present, much of the work on joined-up government is theoretical rather than empirical, meaning that little is known about the real world effectiveness of joined-up government initiatives. Increasingly, public administration scholars are turning their attention to how whole of government approaches are created and whether they are appropriate or effective in combating the problems they set out to address (Christensen and Laegreid 2007; Pollitt 2003; Ross et al. 2011). Along side the rise of joined-up government, we have seen discourses of evidence-based policy take hold. The evidence-based approach is thought to provide a means by which to improve policy outcomes by strengthening decision-making processes and accountability mechanisms, drawing politicians away from seemingly arbitrary ideologically driven decision making (Bacchi 2009; Donald 2001). However, proponents of evidence-based policy have been primarily concerned with evidence of problems and solutions, and far less concerned with evidence of effective processes. As Colebatch notes, our attention naturally goes to the object of policy – ‘what’s the problem and how is the government trying to address it?’ (Colebatch 2006, p. 1). Far lessattention is given to the policy process, in part because it is seen as overly complex and difficult (Colebatch 2006). In this chapter, we provide a synthesis of the empirical public policy research on joined-up government, identifying characteristics associated with success. We then use this synthesis as the basis for reflection upon a recent joined-up initiative in the Australian context at the federal level (the Social Inclusion Agenda). Drawing on these two pieces of work, we put forward a number of recommendations for how to strengthen and improve joined-up initiatives.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationCreating and Implementing Public Policy. Cross-sectoral debates
    Editors Gemma Carey, Kathy Landvogt and Jo Barraket
    Place of PublicationAbingdon and New York
    PublisherRoutledge, Taylor & Francis Group
    ISBN (Print)9781138806504
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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