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Interorganizational collaboration in public health data sharing

Colleen Casey (College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs, University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, Texas, USA)
Jianling Li (College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs, University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, Texas, USA)
Michele Berry (Department of Community Development, City of Keller, Keller, Texas, USA)

Journal of Health Organization and Management

ISSN: 1477-7266

Article publication date: 19 September 2016




The purpose of this paper is to analyze the institutional and social forces that influence collaborative data sharing practices in cross-sector interorganizational networks. The analysis focusses on the data sharing practices between professionals in the transportation and public health sectors, areas prioritized for collaborative action to improve public health.


A mixed methods design is utilized. Electronic surveys were sent to 57 public health and 157 transportation professionals in a large major metropolitan area in the USA (response rate 39.7 percent). Focus groups were held with 12 organizational leaders representing professionals in both sectors.


The application of the institutional-social capital framework suggests that professional specialization and organizational forces make it challenging for professionals to develop the cross-sector relationships necessary for cross-sector collaborative data sharing.

Research limitations/implications

The findings suggest that developing the social relationships necessary for cross-sector collaboration may be resource intensive. Investments are necessary at the organizational level to overcome the professional divides that limit the development of cross-sector relationships critical for collaborative data sharing. The results are limited to the data sharing practices of professionals in one metropolitan area.


Despite mandates and calls for increased cross-sector collaboration to improve public health, such efforts often fail to produce true collaboration. The study’s value is that it adds to the theoretical conceptualization of collaboration and provides a deeper understanding as to why collaborative action remains difficult to achieve. Future study of collaboration must consider the interaction between professional specialization and the social relationships necessary for success.



Support for this project was provided through a Federal Highway Administration grant. The authors acknowledge the assistance of Tarrant County Public Health and the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG).


Casey, C., Li, J. and Berry, M. (2016), "Interorganizational collaboration in public health data sharing", Journal of Health Organization and Management, Vol. 30 No. 6, pp. 855-871.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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