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Durham University

Policy, Professions and Communities Research Group


Publication details for Professor Tony Chapman

Chapman, T., Brown, J., Ford, C. & Baxter, B. (2010). Trouble with champions: local public sector-third sector partnerships and the future prospects for collaborative governance in the UK. Policy Studies 31(6): 613-630.

Author(s) from Durham


In Britain, the former Labour government employed a range of collaborative governance initiatives to get public sector officers (PSOs) and third sector champions (TSCs) working together successfully. This article draws upon evidence from a series of policy seminars undertaken in a subregion of North East England to explore the strengths and weaknesses of inter- and intra-sector relationships. The article shows that PSOs' perceptions of the ‘troublesomeness’ of TSCs arise from, firstly, difficulties in communicating effectively with the third sector because of TSCs' inability to represent sector-wide interests effectively. Secondly, because many TSCs are unwilling to conform to public sector protocol, this leads to accusations of unprofessional practice. The article considers whether the perception of TSCs as troublesome can be interpreted as a convenient device when PSOs are reticent about yielding control over the delivery of public sector services to the third sector. In the context of significant reductions in public sector funding by the new coalition government, the article concludes that the landscape of partnership working and prospects for collaborative governance will change significantly – but not necessarily always to the detriment of inter-sector relationships.