This study explores the capabilities of collaborative intermediary organisations (CIOs) and its value generating potential at the city scale. As an emerging organisational form, CIOs create public interest value by creating specific platforms for deliberations and collaboration between diverse stakeholders. This study is important in light of growing and divisive economic and social disparities. Effective solutions to complex problems require legitimate collaborative platforms aimed at creating public interest value. CIOs are one such platform.
This study first explores the Johannesburg inner city context to understand the potential and design implications for CIOs. It furthermore identifies CIO capabilities and explores the question of how CIOs create value.
Sixteen interviews with CIO leaders, experts and sector representatives from business, government and the community involved with CIOs were conducted. Semi-structured interviews were used to gather qualitative data which was analysed through content analysis.
The research findings suggest that despite a challenging partnership context, through particular design considerations and relevant organisational capabilities, CIOs are a useful and noteworthy enabler for public interest value creation. The identified capabilities are collaborative leadership, the ability to build trust in action, supporting weaker sector to fulfill mandates, sound analytical skills as well as distinctive attributes which emphasise a commitment to the long term. CIOs create value directly by convening partners, providing a neutral platform and a ‘translation’ service, as well as through creatively leveraging diverse perspectives. The findings further show that leadership and mutual interest between sectors are the primary sources of CIO value. The value is realised through interaction between the respective partners which provides a host of intangible benefits. The study furthermore shows the potential of capable CIOs to activate further collaborative value.