Making sense, discovering what works…

Cross-agency collaboration in Child Welfare and Protection in Norway and Quebec

  • Oscar E. Firbank
  • Janne Iren Paulsen Breimo
  • Johans Tveit Sandvin
Keywords: cross-agency collaboration, service networks, Child Welfare and Protection, sociology, Norway and Quebec, meta-ethnography


This paper addresses the enabling and constraining factors that underpin inter-organizational collaboration in Child Welfare and Protection services in Norway and Quebec. Characterized by different regulatory systems, but with a common drive to hierarchically promote cross-agency collaboration, these jurisdictions provide the basis for two instructive and contrasting case studies on the subject. The paper builds on meta-ethnography as a means to synthesize and translate results from separate qualitative research undertakings carried out in each place. It argues that although a core set of properties may be identified as necessary for collaboratives to operate in a successful, sustainable manner; greater attention should be paid to how these properties interact with one another on the ground, given schemes’ particular scope and scale of objectives. Moreover, regulatory provisions aimed at stimulating or mandating cross-agency networks may align with collaborative capacity in various ways, occasionally in a mutually reinforcing, but sometimes antagonistic manner. The conclusions drawn have implications for both research and policy.

Author Biographies

Oscar E. Firbank

Associate Professor
School of Social Work
University of Montreal
P.O. Box 6128, Centre-ville station
Montreal, Quebec H3C 3J7
Phone: (+1) 514-343-2294

Janne Iren Paulsen Breimo

Associate Professor
Nord University
Faculty of Social Sciences
Postbox 1490
8049 Bodø
Phone: 004775517425

Johans Tveit Sandvin

Nord University
Faculty of Social Sciences
Postbox 1490
8049 Bodø
Phone: 004775517631


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How to Cite
Firbank, O. E., Breimo, J. I. P., & Sandvin, J. T. (2016). Making sense, discovering what works…: Cross-agency collaboration in Child Welfare and Protection in Norway and Quebec. Journal of Comparative Social Work, 11(2), 151 - 186.
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