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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Interorganizational relations in local governments: issues in the provision of recreation services Gagnon, Caroline


In order to deal with on-going environmental pressures and uncertainty, organizations have established linkages with other organizations as one strategy to deal with these new challenges (Fenell, Ross & Warnecke, 1987; Oliver, 1990; 1991; Thibault, Frisby & Kikulis, 1997). The establishment of partnerships is viewed by organizations as a new way of operating to control and minimize environmental pressures. The purpose of this study was to identify and understand issues of interorganizational relations between local governments, specifically departments of Parks and Recreation and community organizations providing recreation and sport services. Specifically, reasons for being involved in partnerships as well as advantages and challenges of partnerships were investigated as part of this research. The City of Surrey was selected as the research site for this study on the analysis of interorganizational relationships between its Parks and Recreation department and three community organizations providing recreation services and programs: Surrey Knights Swim Club, Surrey Youth Soccer Association, and Surrey Minor Hockey Association. The City of Surrey was chosen given its large territory, its population growth, its decreasing funds for recreation services, and its limited number of recreation facilities. Through semi-structured interviews with key informants, issues on interorganizational relations were discussed. The main reasons for involvement were described as access to financial and facility resources. With the economic pressures that local governments are facing, the establishment of partnerships represents an appealing option to meet these challenges. Furthermore, the Surrey Parks and Recreation department is linking with community organizations in order to gain credibility within the community. By establishing working partnerships with one another, community organizations and Surrey Parks and Recreation department are able to provide the same level of services to the community, consequently leading to the welfare of the community. The final topic that was discussed during this research was the levels of intensity of the partnerships and its relation to loss of autonomy. Using Oliver's (1990) model, it was found that all levels of intensity were evident at one point or another in the partnerships and that these levels varied according to the environmental context. However, the loss of autonomy, as described by Oliver (1990) did not appear to be a factor influencing the partnerships. This might be due to the fact that all partners were involved in these partnerships for the same goals and purposes and not to compete against each other. Interorganizational relationships were an intricate and important dimension of the organizations studied. It is essential for organizations to better understand issues surrounding partnerships in order to effectively engage in linkages that are beneficial to all partners involved in this process and to the public.

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