Case Set

Early-Stage Collaboration Case Set

  • Authors Sanderijn Cels, Jorrit de Jong, Monica Giannone, Martijn Groenleer, Brian S. Mandell, Gaylen Moore, Mark Moore, Elizabeth Patton, Brady Roberts, Guhan Subramanian, Eric Weinberger
group of city leaders sitting around a table talking

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Collaboration, Strategic Leadership and Management



Complex city-wide challenges often require public, for-profit, and civic organizations to work together. But how do you find a common starting point? This collection of teaching cases explores the early stages of collaboration and how effective city teams can gain momentum.

Learning Objectives

  1. Diagnosing barriers to collaboration and possible avenues for collaboration across organizations and sectors to address social problems that cut across missions and organizational capacities.
  2. Examine how to take a strategic approach to “problem selection” and navigate the challenges and benefits associated with selecting a team across boundaries or sectors.
  3. Explore the concepts of “execution as learning” and “finding entry points.”
  4. Creating conditions for diverse teams to make progress on complex problems.



Growing Pains: How a Dutch Cross-Agency Team Took on Illegal Marijuana Production in Residential Areas

Region: Europe

Location: The Netherlands


Nobody’s Core Business: Confronting Cross-Cutting Problems in the Public Sector

Region: North America

Location: United States


Tackling Homelessness and Addiction: Coalition-Building in Manchester, New Hampshire

Region: North America, Northeast Region, United States

Location: Manchester, NH


Cases come with educator guides (suggested session plans for use in academic courses) and practitioner guides (suggested session plans for standalone workshops) as they become available. As a set of curricular materials, this collection of cases lends itself well for courses and training on:

  1. Capabilities for social problem-solving
  2. Public leadership and management in cities
  3. Social and urban policy
  4. Innovations in teamwork
  5. Organizational culture and design


Related Resource

In this episode of the Harvard Kennedy School PolicyCast podcast, Jorrit de Jong (Director of the Bloomberg Center for Cities at Harvard University and Faculty Co-Chair of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative) and Amy Edmondson (Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at the Harvard Business School) talk about their research on what the most successful problem-solving collaborations have in common, including building a culture of safety and trust and being empowered to try, fail, and learn from mistakes.

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