Collaborative governance at the start of an integrated community approach: a case study

Sanneke J M Grootjans*, M M N Stijnen, M E A L Kroese, D Ruwaard, M W J Jansen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: We studied collaborative governance at the start of an integrated community approach aiming to improve population health, quality of care, controlling health care costs and improving professional work satisfaction. Our objective was to investigate which characteristics of collaborative governance facilitate or hamper collaboration in the starting phase. This question is of growing importance for policymakers and health initiatives, since on a global scale there is a shift towards 'population health management' where collaboration between stakeholders is a necessity. In addition, it is crucial to investigate collaborative governance from the beginning, since it offers opportunities for sustainability of collaboration later on in the process.

METHODS: We performed a qualitative case study in four deprived neighbourhoods in the city of Maastricht, the Netherlands. An integrated community approach was implemented, involving various stakeholders from the public and private health sectors and provincial and local authorities. Data was collected from December 2016 to December 2018, with a triangulation of methods (50 observations, 24 interviews and 50 document reviews). The Integrative Framework for Collaborative Governance guided data collection and analysis.

RESULTS: We focused on the dynamics within the collaborative governance regime, consisting of principled engagement, shared motivation and capacity for joint action. We found that shared goalsetting, transparency, being physically present, informal meetings, trust and leadership are key aspects at the start of collaborative governance. An extensive accountability structure can both hamper (time-consuming which hinders innovation) and facilitate (keep everybody on board) collaboration. The characteristics we found are of significance for policy, practice and research. Policymakers and practitioners can use our lessons learned for implementing similar (population health) initiatives. This case study contributes to the already existing literature on collaborative governance adding to the knowledge gap on the governance of population health approaches.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: NTR6543 , registration date; 25 July 2017.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1013
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2022


  • Humans
  • Leadership
  • Netherlands
  • Qualitative Research
  • Social Responsibility
  • Trust
  • Collaborative governance
  • CARE
  • Case study
  • Integrated community approach
  • Population health management
  • Collaboration


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