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Inside the black box: Unpacking inter-organizational collaboration processes through a boundary spanning lens

Healthcare provision in the Netherlands and around the world is heavily fragmented and burdened by ever increasing costs. Healthcare organizations have been attempting to overcome these challenges by engaging in inter-organizational collaborations; however, the results of their efforts have been mixed. Over half of the inter-organizational agreements fail to implement their plans and many deteriorate over time, often within their first year. In order to explain why these
collaborations fail – and why others succeed – we need a thorough understanding of how interorganizational healthcare collaborations develop when implemented in practice. However, neither healthcare management literature nor general organizational research can readily address this issue.

To fill this gap, the present project frames inter-organizational collaboration as a process that unfolds across a variety of boundaries: inter- and intra-organizational, strategic and operational, or determined by different professions. Based on an in-depth, qualitative exploration of two healthcare networks in the Netherlands, this project examines: the articulation and issue-selling of its interorganizational strategy, the design and implementation of its operational practices, and the interaction between inter- and intra-organizational aspects in the collaboration’s development. In so doing, the project delivers new insights into the processes and practices involved in setting up, implementing, and enacting inter-organizational collaboration in the healthcare sector. Moreover, it
provides a counterpoint to the inter-organizational relations literature’s widespread tendency to view the collaboration as an opaque entity that somehow stands removed from the organizations that engage in it.

Project Member

Prof. Kristina Lauche
Prof. Hans van Kranenburg
Dr Gerrit Willem Ziggers
Daniela Patru


Radboud University - Institute for Management Research


2011 - 2015