Government ministers have stressed that inter‐agency co‐ordination will be crucial to the success of their community care proposals. Yet the history of collaboration between health and local authorities has been one of limited achievements. Notwithstanding this general record there are a growing number of examples of apparently successful co‐ordination; moreover, amongst these are projects involving joint management, which is inter‐agency co‐ordination at its most complex. This article reports on a detailed study of five such projects, across a range of client groups, undertaken on behalf of the Department of Health. We found that the essence of such schemes is their fragility and vulnerability to a range of organisational pressures. We concluded that these pressures are sufficient to threaten the survival of newly established projects unless managers address certain key imperatives which we outline here.
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