Federalist No. 51: Is the Past Relevant to Today's Collaborative Public Management?

AuthorLisa Blomgren Bingham,Rosemary O'Leary
Date01 December 2011
Published date01 December 2011
Lisa Blomgren Bingham is the
Keller-Runden Professor of Public Service
in the School of Public and Environmental
Affairs at Indiana University and a visiting
professor of law in the William S. Boyd
School of Law at the University of Nevada,
Las Vegas. Her recent research examines
the legal framework for public engagement,
dialogue, deliberation, and collaboration in
governance. She currently is working on a
book examining justice and the rule of law
in institutional and disp ute systems design.
E-mail: lbingham@indiana.edu
Rosemary O’Leary is the Distinguished
Professor and Phanstiel Chair in Strategic
Management and Leadership at the
Maxwell School of Syracuse University. Her
research, teaching, and practice focus on
improving the implementation of collabora-
tive governance efforts, including address-
ing the conf‌l icts inherent in collaborative
networks and understanding the impact of
law on collaborative policies.
E-mail: roleary@maxwell.syr.edu
S78 Public Administration Review • Special Issue
Lisa Blomgren Bingham
Indiana University
Rosemary O’Leary
Syracuse University
Federalist No. 51 is another of the most recognizable and
important of the Federalist Papers, famously arguing
that one f‌i rst must enable government to control the
governed, and then oblige it to control itself.  e authors
suggest that part of this obligation involves ef‌f ective
collaboration within a system of separate powers.  ey
then ask how this “collaboration imperative” can be
exercised in today’s contentious political environment.
Today’s public administrators are working in a new
landscape that requires them to be collaborative.
By collaborative we mean “the process of facilitating
and operating in multi-organizational arrangements
to solve problems that cannot be solved or easily
solved by single organizations. Collaborative means
to co-labor, to achieve common goals, often working
across boundaries and in multi-sector and multi-actor
relationships. Collaboration is based on the value of
reciprocity and can include the public” (O’Leary et al.
ere are several reasons for the increase in collabora-
tive public management both in the literature and
in practice. First, most public challenges are larger
than one organization, requiring new approaches
to addressing public issues. Second, outsourcing
has grown in volume and dollar amount. By its
very nature, outsourcing is a collaborative endeavor
between the public agencies awarding the contract
and the organizations performing the contracted tasks.
ird, the desire to improve the ef‌f ectiveness of pub-
licly funded programs is encouraging public of‌f‌i cials to
identify new ways of providing public services. Fourth,
technology is helping government agencies and per-
sonnel share information in a way that is integrative
and interoperable, with the outcome being a greater
emphasis on collaborative governance. Finally, citizens
are seeking additional avenues for engaging in gover-
nance, which can result in new and dif‌f erent forms of
collaborative problem solving and decision making.
More than a decade ago, H. George Frederickson
observed that public administration was moving “to-
ward theories of cooperation, networking, governance,
and institution building and maintenance” in response
to the “declining relationship between jurisdiction and
public management” in a “fragmented and disarticu-
lated state” (1999, 702). Frederickson emphasized
institutionalism, public sector network theory, and
governance theory as relevant to the future of public
Lester Salamon observed that “[u]nlike both tra-
ditional public administration and the new public
management, the new governance shifts the empha-
sis from management skills and the control of large
bureaucratic organizations to enablement skills, the
skills required to engage partners arrayed horizontally
in networks, to bring multiple stakeholders together
for a common end in a situation of interdependence”
(2005, 16).
In earlier work, we have likened this approach to
public management to “lateral thinking”—a phrase
used to describe creativity that stems from taking
knowledge from one substantive context or discipline
and seeing how useful it is in an entirely dif‌f erent one
(Bingham and O’Leary 2008). For example, Leon-
ardo Da Vinci’s genius stemmed from his mastery of
lateral thinking; he moved f‌l uidly from art to science,
engineering, mathematics, medicine, architecture, and
beyond, f‌i nding universal rules of nature manifest in
widely varying contexts (Riding 2006). He dissected
the human arm and a bird’s wing and then tried to
engineer a machine to enable people to f‌l y; in this
way, he applied what he had learned from human
physiology and natural science to engineering. And so
it is with the public administration of the twenty-f‌i rst
century: new challenges and new ways of addressing
public policy problems by necessity demand collab-
orative approaches.
Feldman and colleagues provide a vision of a new
professional identity for public administrators: “ e
public manager as inclusive manager facilitates the
practice of democracy by creating opportunities for
Federalist No. 51: Is the Past Relevant to Today’s Collaborative
Public Management?

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