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Working Across Boundaries: Making Collaboration Work in Government and Nonprofit Organizations (Jossey-Bass Nonprofit and Public Management Series) 1st Edition

7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0787964306
ISBN-10: 0787964301
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Editorial Reviews


"Everywhere I go these days, people are struggling to get public organizations to collaborate. It's a difficult challenge, but thankfully Russ Linden has studied what actually works in the field. Linden's book is practical, very clear, and truly indispensable for anyone who needs to work across organizational boundaries to get the job done."— David Osborne, coauthor, Reinventing Government and The Reinventors Fieldbook

"This is a wonderful book! For the novice collaborator, it offers inspiration, stories, and clear directions, all in the helpful, encouraging voice of a good coach who never doubts for a minute that you can do it, and that it is worth doing."
— Joey Rodger, president and CEO, Urban Libraries Council

"As we increase work across boundaries, Lindens book provides an important framework for collaboration and excellent examples of the power of this approach for practitioners."
— Robert J. ONeill Jr., executive director, International City/County Management Association and former president, National Academy of Public Administration

"The ideas contained in this book have far-reaching potential to help governments and nonprofit agencies gain new efficiencies and effectiveness that can benefit our communities."
— Charles F. Gerhards, CIO, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

"Working Across Boundaries is a glimpse into the future of how government managers in the twenty-first century will work through networks, partnerships, and collaboration . . . Russ Linden paints a picture of the dynamics to which leaders will need to respond in order to get program results. Practitioners will be able to pick up this book and start applying its principles immediately."
— John Kamensky, director, managing for results practice, PwC Consulting; former deputy director, National Partnership for Reinventing Government

"Russ Linden has a knack for writing on precisely the right subject at the most appropriate time. Now he's done it again. Governments at all levels are under pressure to break down both internal and external barriers . . . . Linden writes in a compelling way to make his powerful points . . . . He is right on target."
— Peter Harkness, publisher, Governing Maazine

From the Inside Flap

If we are to solve today's complex problems— urban sprawl, drug abuse, low-performing schools, global warming, inadequate transportation, and terrorism— public and nonprofit agencies must be able to cut across agency and professional boundaries and work collaboratively.
Working Across Boundaries is a practical guide for nonprofit and government professionals who want to learn the techniques and strategies of successful collaboration. Written by Russell M. Linden, one of the most widely recognized experts in organizational change, this no nonsense book shows how to make collaboration work in the real world. It offers practitioners a framework for developing collaborative relationships and shows them how to adopt strategies that have proven to be successful with a wide range of organizations. Filled with in-depth case studies— including a particularly challenging case in which police officers and social workers overcome the inherent differences in their cultures to help abused children— the book clearly shows how organizations have dealt with the hard issues of collaboration. Working Across Boundaries includes
  • Information on how to select potential partners
  • Guidelines for determining what kinds of projects lend themselves to collaboration and which do not
  • Suggestions on how to avoid common pitfalls of collaboration
  • Strategies proven to work consistently
  • The phases most collaborative projects go through
  • The nature of collaborative leadership
Working Across Boundaries explores the interpersonal and organizational forces that often inhibit collaboration and offers government and nonprofit leaders the tools to combat those forces. This important resource shows readers how they can create a collaborative culture in their agencies and work across boundaries with others, in order to deal with complex, cross- cutting challenges.

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Product Details

  • Series: Jossey-Bass Nonprofit and Public Management Series
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (October 28, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0787964301
  • ISBN-13: 978-0787964306
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,063,960 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Karl Mettke on January 12, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is an wonderful book for any government unit, non-profit organization that is interested in working across boundaries. It captures the spirit and essence of working across boundaries with real life examples. Any leader in government should read this book. You can use the techniques and suggestions to improve performance and recapture the spirit of innovation. Mr. Linden provides good resources and ideas to help managers and leaders work across boundaries.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Retired Reader on September 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Every year brings forth a new crop of books relating to business management or operations. Many are overpriced, a large number are worthless (`How to Manage Like Jack the Ripper'), and a minority are actually very good. This book published in 2002 is one of that minority.

Russell Linden has chosen to specialize in the study of collaboration and collaborative processes. Over the course of over twenty years of analysis and application he has developed some very sound ideas on what makes collaborative efforts work and what causes them to fail. One dose not have to read very far into this book to see that effective collaboration in an age of globalization is absolutely essential for business successes. It also becomes clear that collaboration is the cornerstone of knowledge based enterprises, which includes most government agencies.

Linden has developed a collaborative model composed of four elements: 1) the basic requirements for collaboration to work (shared goals etc.): 2) the necessity for building effective relationships; 3) the establishments of mutually recognized `high stakes' (i.e. recognition that collaboration will produce significant benefits); and 3) building a constituency for collaboration (people committed to making collaboration real). In the course of discussing his model, Linden, provides important insights on the important role of champions and the concept of institutional culture. He also illustrates his discussion with well chosen case studies to drive home the functionality of his model. Linden also provides good information on he often lost art of
internal collaboration as well.

This book is particularly relevant to the U.S.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Nate Johnson on May 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Anyone who has worked in government has probably experienced the twin frustrations of people protecting their turf on the one hand while covering their rear with the other. But being effective these days means working in teams, often across the old hierarchical reporting structures of agencies, divisions and units.
Linden's book uses a variety of case studies to explore how collaboration can work, and what the pitfalls can be. He defines collaboration initially as what "occurs when people from different organizations (or units within one organization) produce something together through joint effort, resources, and decision making, and share ownership of the final product or service." His examples range from land management to criminal justice to education to intelligence--all areas where multiple agencies or organizations had to collaborate in a high stakes environment.
High stakes is one of the four keys for Linden. There must be something important enough to motivate the collaboration. The other keys are strong relationships among the collaborators, the existence of a constituency for collaboration, and what he calls "the basics" -- openness, skillful facilitating, etc.
What makes it all work is collaborative leadership--individuals who can pull others along with them into a productive team effort. One chapter discusses the qualities of effective collaborative leaders, who must subordinate their own egos to ensure that all participants have a real stake.
If "Working Across Boundaries" has a fault, it is that he has many good ideas and observations that don't fit neatly into the four-element structure, but that he doesn't want to leave out.
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Format: Hardcover
What do James Madison, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Peter Drucker, the Book of Exodus, Robert Frost, Vince Lombardi, T.S. Eliot, Dr. Spock and Albert Einstein all have in common? They are all quoted in Russ Linden's new book, "Working Across Boundaries: Making Collaboration Work in Government and Non-Profit Organizations." Linden ties them all together in an entertaining and instructive manual for managing in today's work environment.
Linden's book is for practitioners, a group that includes me, since I have been practicing at this profession for almost 30 years. He holds true to the purpose he has set for the book, which is to help practitioners address the hurdles to collaboration and adopt strategies that lead to succesful collaboration, in order to achieve better outcomes for their customers and communities.
What I like best about the book is the use of stories to instruct and inform. Stories are the core tool in relationship building....I know that my bosses, often rely heavily on the stories told them by their constituents to make critical policy decisions....Linden's stories about the collaborative work of the Baltimore Child Advocacy Center; the National Marine Fisheries Service; the City of Charlotte, North Carolina, and others provide practical examples of how his models work in the real world.
He not only suggests numerous techniques for establishing practical, collaborative efforts. He also adds a series of four "resource" chapters at the end of the book with illustrations of how these techniques have been applied, the most-asked questions about collaboration together with their answers, an assessment tool, and a summary of the situations in numerous organizations that have served as the basis for his conclusions and models.
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