An important political and organizational ambition of Aarhus 2017 is to improve collaboration among the various cultural stakeholders in the Region of Central Denmark. More specifically, Aarhus 2017 aims to strengthen the quality and quantity of collaboration with a cultural content across sectors, institutions, and disciplines at the local government level. Important questions in this respect are to what extent Aarhus 2017 is successful in achieving this goal, whether collaboration will increase generally or only for some types of stakeholders, and whether effects on collaboration can be observed in the long run.
This research project investigates collaborative governance explanations and outcomes of Aarhus 2017 from a political and organizational research perspective. The public administration literature about collaborative governance focuses on governing arrangements where public stakeholders collaborate in implementing public programs or managing public assets. Drawing on this literature, we argue that Aarhus 2017 has the potential to increase cultural collaboration at the local government level, but that the initiation of collaboration will depend on local resources, knowledge, and prior experiences with collaboration among the involved stakeholders. Hence, Aarhus 2017 is likely to increase active collaboration for some but not all cultural stakeholders.
The project uses different sources of data collected both before and after Aarhus 2017. Survey and interview data are gathered to measure local resources, knowledge and experiences with collaboration as well as the motivation for initiating new collaboration related to Aarhus 2017. These data include qualitative interviews with municipal managers and cultural project stakeholders in the Region of Central Denmark as well as surveys with key persons involved in the cultural policy of each municipality in the region. Moreover, these data are combined with register-based data on cultural budgets and spending of the municipalities and monitoring data from the Aarhus 2017 organization mapping the various Aarhus 2017 projects and their potential collaboration.