Public Capacity, Plural Forms of Collaboration, and the Performance of Public Initiatives: A Configurational Approach

Sergio G. Lazzarini, Leandro S. Pongeluppe, Nobuiuki C. Ito, Felippe de Medeiros Oliveira, Armen Ovanessoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


We assess conditions that explain plural forms of public and private action using a comparative study of 24 public initiatives in Brazil, India, and South Africa. Measuring performance as evidence of positive outcomes to their target populations, we compare cases of high and low performance. Our configurational approach examines combinations of conditions leading to positive outcomes: public operational capacity, diverse collaborations nurtured by public units (with for-profit firms, with nonprofit organizations, and with other units in the public bureaucracy), and stakeholder orientation (permeability to multiple sources of input to design and adjust the project). We apply fuzzy set qualitative comparative analysis to unveil configurations consistent with high performance. Our configurational analysis reveals two distinct paths to high performance. A path with higher private engagement involves concurrent collaborations with for-profit and nonprofit actors, whereas an alternative path with higher internal (public) engagement relies on collaborations within the public bureaucracy complemented by high permeability to inputs from multiple stakeholders. Our results also confirm that strong public capacity is necessary in all high-performance configurations. An important implication is that externalization and multiple forms of collaboration are not substitutes for weak governments. Furthermore, our configurational perspective contributes to the literature by operationalizing a multiple-actor, multiple-logic perspective describing alternative paths to high performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)579-595
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Public Administration Research and Theory
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Marketing


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