Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Urban and Public Affairs

Degree Program

Urban and Public Affairs, PhD

Committee Chair

Kelly, Janet

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Koven, Steven

Committee Member

Koven, Steven

Committee Member

Rollins, Aaron

Committee Member

Ruther, Mathew

Committee Member

Buckley, David

Author's Keywords

collaborative governance; vertical collaboration; horizontal collaboration; transaction cost; multilateral collaboration; bilateral collaboration; network embeddedness


Collaborative governance has received considerable attention in recent years. From environmental resource management to public safety, collaborative governance continues to play a vital role in regional problem solving. In spite of this increasing popularity previous attempts to model the political, economic, and demographic determinants of collaboration have in most cases produced inconsistent results, thereby undermining the ability to generalize from such findings. Additionally, our understanding of the relational patterns that emanate from collaborative agreements remains fairly rudimentary. The main objective of this research is to address some of the gaps in the literature and improve our understanding of collaborative governance by examining existing patterns of collaboration in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Using transaction cost economics theory and the concept of network embeddedness as theoretical lenses, the study examines collaborative governance by going beyond what already exists in current literature – determinants of collaboration– to explore what has barely been addressed – patterns of collaboration. This research includes which services are the strongest candidates for collaboration, which levels of government are the best candidates for partnerships (vertical or horizontal) and what number of partners are appropriate for collaborative arrangements (bilateral or multilateral). The units of analysis for this study are ‘home rule’ cities in Kentucky with populations above 230 people. A city-by-service cross-sectional pooled data was derived from existing agreements signed between years 2000 and 2013 to test the research hypotheses. Descriptive statistics were used to measure the relation between transaction characteristics and the pattern of collaboration while binary logistic regression models were used to test the relation between network embeddedness and the pattern of collaboration. The findings of the study showed that compared to other public services, economic development services have a greater association with vertical collaboration whilst public safety services have a greater association with horizontal collaboration. Similarly, infrastructure services have a greater association with bilateral collaboration whilst public safety services have a greater association with multilateral collaboration. The study also corroborated previous findings that asset specificity and service measurability have strong influence on the likelihood of collaboration. With respect to the pattern of collaboration, the study indicated that compared to other transaction characteristics, services that have high levels of asset specificity but easily measurable have greater associations with vertical and bilateral collaborations. Similarly, services that have high levels of asset specificity and measurement difficulty have greater associations with horizontal and multilateral collaborations. With respect to network embededdness, the study established that repeated interaction in the past has the most significant influence on decisions to collaborate.