Risky strategic behaviour : unintended consequences of good intentions in the homelessness service system

Keast, Robyn L., Waterhouse, Jennifer M., Brown, Kerry A., & Murphy, Glen D. (2011) Risky strategic behaviour : unintended consequences of good intentions in the homelessness service system. In 15th Annual Conference of the International Research Society for Public Management (IRSPMXV), 11-14 April 2011, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland.

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The delivery of human services occurs through a complex and often volatile system characterised by both competing and cooperating efforts. A recent strategic intention of government has been to integrate disparate service providers and programs into a more effective and efficient system using competitive funding regimes. A program of amalgamation has also been forecast and promoted as a further mechanism by which to link up smaller agencies thus creating economy and efficiency in the scale and scope of their service modes. Despite the current reliance on competitive funding models and amalgamation as the preferred ways forward for the sector little is known about their integrative capacity including their ability to predict outcomes and their consequences : the ‘unknown unknowns’.

Drawing on an extensive data set of human services integration initiatives in Queensland, Australia, this paper examines the impact of government policy and service models and the risks arising from the tensions between competition and accountability on the one hand and the established good will and trust on the other. It is argued that unresolved, these tensions can lead to a weakening of the social infrastructure and make the system more vulnerable to inherent systemic risks.

The paper finds that government’s efforts to externalise risk to the non-government sector leads to fragmentation of the service system and fractured collaborative capability. These unintended outcomes themselves have the unintended consequence of leaving governments disconnected from the service system and unable to provide the leadership role and direction necessary for sustained integration. Moreover, facilitating such a leadership role is undermined by behaviours that are directly contrary to collective integration models.

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ID Code: 47353
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Strategic Behaviour, Consequences , Homelessness , Service System
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > POLICY AND ADMINISTRATION (160500) > Public Policy (160510)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Management
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2011 [please consult the authors]
Deposited On: 30 Nov 2011 22:31
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2011 00:14

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