Theory-driven approaches to analysing collaborative performance

Christopher Skelcher, Helen Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Citations (Scopus)


The theory-driven approach to analysing and assessing collaborative performance provides an important tool for researchers and policy-makers seeking to understand collaborative performance. It explains performance deductively, in terms of the a priori causality of relationships between variables. Different theoretical domains provide different insights into collaborative performance. The theory-driven approach to collaborative performance contrasts with the metric-driven approach. Here, performance is defined in terms of what can be measured, and causality is then inferred inductively. Five performance domains are identified, covering the democratic, integrative, transformative, policy, and sustainability dimensions of collaboration. These draw on democratic theory, exchange and power-dependency theory, institutional theory, policy network theory, and discourse theory. The analytical consequences of each theory-driven approach are examined through three case studies. The article concludes that each theoretical perspective provides a distinctive insight into collaborative performance, thus more accurately reflecting its multifaceted mature than is possible with a metric-driven approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)751-771
Number of pages21
JournalPublic Management Review
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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