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Introducing the Anatomy of a Collaborative Series

We’re excited to launch a new series of profiles called Anatomy of a Collaborative. The goal of this series is to provide practitioners in and around government as well as fellow researchers and folks supporting collaborative work with detailed, real-world examples to learn from.

In this series, each profile will be primarily based on desk research and, when possible, supplemented by an interview or conversation with someone from the collaborative being profiled. Each piece will follow a structured template to ensure that the core components of a collaborative, namely history, governance, membership, operations, tech, market landscape, successes, and challenges, are covered and can be easily compared.

Our student analyst, Abbey Swartzwelder, is leading the charge on this series, and has just published the first profile on the Open Justice Broker Consortium, a non-profit membership organization of states and counties that share open source justice information technology.

Our approaches to studying collaboratives

We currently have two approaches to studying individual collaboratives. The first is the Anatomy of a Collaborative series introduced here, which is relatively light-weight, descriptive in nature, and primarily informed by desk research. We often talk with folks working in a collaborative or interested in starting a collaborative who are looking for other collaboratives to learn from. We hope these case studies will provide quick references for these conversations and for the public more generally, with examples in an easily digestible structure while still having enough detail to be useful.

Our second approach is conducting deeper research to produce case studies. Case studies offer original findings gathered through methods like stakeholder interviews, observations, and document analysis to surface nuanced learnings and trends regarding a collaborative’s formation, growth edges, and successes. This form of study is analytical rather than only descriptive, and contributes to emergent theory about intergovernmental software collaboratives, which may be of interest to other researchers and, as well as practitioners.

Our research framework and practices on our team and at the Beeck Center more widely are constantly evolving, and we plan to share updates here as they do. If you have any questions or feedback about our approaches to studying collaboratives, please let us know by emailing us at!

If you know of a collaborative that you think should be featured in either an Anatomy case study or an in-depth study, please suggest it to us at