EPISODE #86 | Collaboration for public purpose with Professor Helen Sullivan

Collaboration and breaking down silos are big themes in today’s public service. At the heart of APS reform sits the idea of partnership between the public service and various stakeholders such as communities, businesses, and governments. To achieve this, it needs on-the-ground collaboration that takes into consideration the interdependence of policy issues and tiers of governance, the hybridity of public administration and service institutions, and the diversity of peoples and publics. But how does collaboration for public purpose work, and how can we ensure it is effective?

On this episode of Work with Purpose, Professor Helen Sullivan, Dean of the College of Asia and the Pacific discusses the power of collaboration, drawing insights from her book Collaboration and Public Policy: Agency in the Pursuit of Public Purpose. You will hear about Helen’s new framework for analysing and understanding the dynamics of collaboration for public purpose, which goes beyond instrumental effectiveness, exploring collaboration as an affective space. Helen also shares examples of successful collaboration that showcases both effectiveness and affectiveness, and practical tips for public administrators to improve the way they collaborate.

Discussed in this episode:

  • Types of collaboration and challenges faced by governments
  • Importance of refining ideas and diversity for problem-solving
  • Making collaboration a core competency in APS reform
  • Practical steps for effective collaboration
  • Examples of successful collaboration.


Helen Sullivan
Professor Helen Sullivan is a public policy scholar and academic leader. Her research and teachings explore state-society relationships and their interactions with public policy systems. She is the author/editor of nine books, including Collaboration and Public Policy. Agency in the Pursuit of Public Purpose (2022). Her leadership practice focuses on institution-building, innovation, and renewal in complex systems. Helen is a National Fellow of the Institute of Public Administration Australia (2017), a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (2003) and a past President of the Australian Political Studies Association (2020-21). She currently serves as Dean of the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University.




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