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Global trends in a fragile context: public–nonpublic collaboration, service delivery and social innovation

Aleksandar Bozic (Department of Sociology and Social Work, University of Agder, Kristiansand, Norway)

Social Enterprise Journal

ISSN: 1750-8614

Article publication date: 2 November 2020

Issue publication date: 4 August 2021




This study aims to enhance the understanding of the nature of collaboration between public and nonpublic actors in delivering social services and achieving social innovation in a fragile context, with an emphasis on the role of civil society organisations (CSOs). The paper focuses on Bosnia and Herzegovina, a Southeastern European country which has faced a turbulent post-conflict transition and experienced challenges in its social welfare policy and practice.


This study uses institutional theory, particularly new institutionalism and institutional networking, as a lens through which to understand public and nonpublic collaboration and social innovation within a fragile context. This study adopts a sequential mixed-method approach. Data were derived from 15 semi-structured interviews with representatives from local CSOs, international donors and public institutions, as well as a survey of 120 CSO representatives.


The collaboration and social innovation in a fragile welfare context have been initiated primarily by nonpublic actors and developed within the triple context of relations between public, civil and foreign donors’ organisations. In such a context, coercive, normative and mimetic isomorphisms act as leading drivers, but also as potential barriers of public–nonpublic collaboration and social innovation. They are triggered by influences from multiple actors, challenging power relations and external pressures on local CSOs.


The paper contributes to the growing research interest in the role of nonpublic actors in the provision of public services and public social innovation, but examines these issues from the perspective of a fragile context, which has thus far been overlooked in the literature.



The author would like to thank Tale Steen-Johnsen (The University of Agder) and Anne Marie Støkken (The University of Agder) for their valuable feedback and the three anonymous reviewers for their insightful suggestions and careful reading of the manuscript.


Bozic, A. (2021), "Global trends in a fragile context: public–nonpublic collaboration, service delivery and social innovation", Social Enterprise Journal, Vol. 17 No. 2, pp. 260-279.



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Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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