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Timothy Collins, IIRA Assistant Director
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Rural Illinois Perspectives: New Management Strategy Needed for Municipalities

June 3, 2009

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By Timothy Collins, IIRA Assistant Director

MACOMB, IL -- Increased calls for accountability plus limited public funding have increased the need for collaborative public management to improve local Illinois communities, according to Frank Antonucci, economic development specialist at the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at Western Illinois University.

Antonucci, writing in the April 2009 edition of the "Illinois Municipal Review," said decentralization by the federal government has placed more responsibilities on local Illinois municipalities. Meanwhile, the overlapping jurisdictions of Illinois local government units and quasi-governmental units create additional management challenges.

The article "Collaborative Public Management: A New Strategy for Illinois Municipalities," offers guidelines to help local governments adapt to greater management challenges. For example, multiple public agencies and private firms collaborate by pooling their combined resources, skills and knowledge to solve common problems within a framework of interdependent and shared responsibility.

The article defines the components of collaboration and then explores the steps that public managers can use to implement collaborative management in Illinois municipalities.

Collaboration components include:

  • Information seeking activities that allow local officials to seek guidance from state and federal managers on ways to comply with program mandates to ensure a continuing stream of funding, expertise and other resources;
  • Adjustment seeking activities that request a suspension or modification of program rules when program constraints become an impediment in the implementation process;
  • Policy making that builds collaborative relationships so governments can pool resources and expertise, build stronger bases of support and create new plans of action to solve critical public management challenges;
  • Resource exchange activities among entities that achieve local goals in community and economic development; and
  • Project based activities that eventually lead to more enduring collaborative relationships.

Steps that lead to collaborative public management include:

  • Working individual to individual to acquire information;
  • Working individual to organization to develop coordination and negotiation skills for more harmonious interactions in a work relationship;
  • Working informally on an organization-to-organization basis for the mutual benefit of the partners; and
  • Working collaboration to community to embrace collaboration in a highly interdependent and formal work partnership that creates its own community of interdependent partners.

Collaborative management has developed over the past decade in response to a greater need for navigating jurisdictional boundaries to serve communities more effectively. The process of collaboration continues to evolve, and according to Antonucci, the training of public managers needs to change to fit the new way of managing municipalities.

You can obtain a copy of the article by contacting IIRA at the phone number below or from the Illinois Municipal League website at (p. 13–15).

Western Illinois University is an Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity institution. For more information about the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs, see If you care to comment about this column, please contact Timothy Collins at (800) 526-9943 or

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