Why Partnership Working Doesn't Work. Pitfalls, problems and possibilities in English health and social care

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Colleges, School and Institutes


English public services in general (and health and social care in particular) have become increasingly dominated by the notion of partnership working. Despite this, more recent years have seen something of a reaction against partnerships. This article reviews lessons learned from a case study of a forensic mental health partnership, arguing that the service in question reveals a number of common pitfalls in terms of the way that partnerships are established and put into practice. In many ways, this was not the fault of the case study partnership, but the product of the wider institutional context in which health and social care partnerships have been developed and promoted. Ultimately, the article suggests some additions to the partnership theoretical literature, before concluding that the current concept of partnership working may lose credibility without additional work to clarify its meaning and contribution.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)811-828
Number of pages18
JournalPublic Management Review
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2010


  • new institutional theory, Health and social care, partnership working