'Joined-Up' Policy-Making: Group Decision and Negotiation Practice
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Creating public value is problematic in a world of austerity. Joint private and public, and public-public, projects are now an established way of creating public value. Establishing joint goals within a context of different ‘own goals’ is important and difficult. A particular issue facing many organisations in seeking to negotiate joint goals in a collaborative project is that of getting all the key managers from both organisations together over enough of a sequence of meetings for agreements to be meaningful and owned by those who will deliver the project. The development of such goals can be significantly enhanced by (1) using a Group Decision Support System (GDSS) and (2) using a powerful conceptualisation of a goals framework comprising: a goals system; ‘core goals’; ‘meta-goals’; ‘negative’ goals; and ‘above and beyond’ goals. In the case of negotiating joint goals the use of a GDSS has increased productivity to such an extent that powerful negotiated agreements can be achieved with all key managers in the room in as little as one meeting. The combination of high productivity, anonymity, and the structuring of the data has also facilitated the uncovering of ‘negative goals’, and the development of ‘meta-goals’ and ‘above and beyond’ goals. This paper uses three real cases to illustrate the significance of a Group Support System’s contribution and to illustrate the different types of goals. In doing so the paper suggests that facilitating such outcomes requires a carefully designed strategic conversation necessarily supported by a GDSS to enable group decision and negotiation in practice. Two of the cases are from public-public collaboration in the health field, and the other from a private-public setting.
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