Explaining Cooperation: How Resource Interdependence, Goal Congruence, and Trust Affect Joint Actions in Policy Implementation

Lundin, Martin
October 2007
Journal of Public Administration Research & Theory;Oct2007, Vol. 17 Issue 4, p651
Academic Journal
A perennial problem when political decisions are to be implemented is how to make authorities work together. Previous research shows that resource interdependence, goal congruence, and mutual trust increase interorganizational cooperation. In this article, it is argued that interaction effects must also be considered in order to fully understand how these variables affect cooperation. The study is based on 203 dyads of Swedish Public Employment Service offices and municipalities in 2003. I find that mutual trust is necessary if goal congruence is to increase cooperation between these agencies. Furthermore, mutual trust only has a positive effect if organizations have similar objectives. However, trust is not required for resource interdependence to affect cooperation, and the effect of trust is not dependent on the organizations' mutual dependence. The results imply that trust and goal congruence must exist simultaneously in order to promote joint actions. Thus, if a management strategy aimed at increasing cooperation only focuses on the organizations' objectives or the level of trust between them, it will fail. An important lesson for future research is that including interaction terms in the analysis improves our understanding of interorganizational cooperation.


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