Focus of the study
In close cooperation with five Danish municipalities (Hedensted, Haderslev, Randers, Rødovre and Stevns) and researchers from Aarhus University, we conducted a study of coordinated efforts to serve citizens with complex challenges. In short, our research focused on the following three hypotheses:
There is a positive correlation between the quality of the collaboration across the professionals involved (defined as relational capacity) and the citizen-experienced quality.
There is a positive correlation between management behavior, which is defined as strategic relational management, and collaboration across the professionals involved, which is defined as relational capacity.
A targeted management intervention has a positive impact on the employees’ experience of the quality of the collaboration across the professionals involved (the relational capacity).
Analyses of concrete data derived from the research support the following three hypotheses.
One meaningful result not directly within the scope of our research focus is that, from the beginning, there was very significant variation in the quality of cooperation between professionals in all five of the participating municipalities. Thus, every municipality had major variations in the degree of Relational Capacity between specialists in different fields and different departments, even though they all have the same basic organizational structures and working conditions, as well as casework that is relatively uniform.
In other words, the individual cases are handled very differently, solely due to varying quality of cooperation between the professionals involved. Experience also shows that it is often difficult to secure the participation of all stakeholders in the given case. This experience is shared by the internal contacts who helped provide us with an overview of their organization, as well as by our research assistants, who spent a lot of time working to secure the participation of all those involved.
This in itself is an important finding, and it gives a lot of food for thought. It shows that we need to learn more about how the degree of Relational Capacity directly impacts the quality and effectiveness of services to meet the needs and challenges of citizens, and about how the quality of Relational Capacity can be improved through targeted efforts.