Effective Practitioner-Scholar Relationships: Lessons from a Co-Production Partnership


School of Business Seminar Room, Building 27, Level 1

12.15pm to 1.15pm

This article presents a continuum of possible co-production arrangements between scholars and practitioners suggesting that greater engagement is necessary to bridge the commonly cited problems that create the gap between research and practice. Reflections on an Australian case of a major public sector co-production partnership, the highest degree of interaction on the continuum, are used to argue that successful engagement between practitioners and scholars is possible, while also recognizing the difficulties inherent in this process. The benefits and challenges of this partnership are presented, and we point to critical factors that drive effective relationships. Lessons are drawn for the development of future co-production partnerships, including the importance of recognizing that both scholars and practitioners are, in fact, researchers.


Dr Fiona Buick is a Lecturer at the University of New South Wales, Canberra. Fiona’s research focus is on the role of organisational culture, strategic human resource management and human resource management in enabling group and organizational effectiveness within the public sector. She also focuses on the dynamics involved in structural change and intra- and inter-organisational joining-up, highlighting tensions between informal and formal institutional practices.

Deborah Blackman is Professor of Public Management Strategy at UNSW Canberra. She works with the public sector to enhance Strategic People Management and Change Effectiveness as well as researching in the areas of performance management, knowledge management and long-term disaster recovery. She recently co-edited Contemporary Perspectives in Human Capital and Development which applies current research to real world applications and serves on the editorial board of Management Learning.

Janine O'Flynn is Professor of Public Management at the University of Melbourne. Her co-authored book Rethinking Public Service Delivery: Managing with External Providers received the 2013 Best Book Award (Public Non Profit) at the 2014 Academy of Management. She is an editor of Australian Journal of Public Administration and sits on the boards of Public Administration Review, Public Administration, Teaching Public Administration, Canadian Public Administration, and Journal of Management and Organisation.

Michael O’Donnell is Professor of Human Resource Management in the School of Business at the University of New South Wales, Canberra. Michael has published widely on human resource policies and practices, including performance management, in the Australian Public Service. He is co-author of Unions and Globalisation: Governments, Management and the State at Work, Routledge (2012).

Damian West has extensive policy and program delivery experience in the public sector. He has led the development of sector wide workforce strategies and implemented significant policy reforms.  Damian has a deep understanding of public sector administration and human resource development.  A key component of his role is to assist the Australian Public Service plan for the future workforce and manage its current workforce.  Damian manages independent reviews of agencies through the capability review model.