Merging Service Systems: Shared Service and Shared Governance

Merging Service Systems:  Shared Service and Shared Governance, benefit from Upskilling Jobs and Strengthening Regional Identity :     When most people hear the word’s “shared service and shared governance” they hear “staff reductions” and political obstacles start emerging left and right.   In spite of this challenge, overcoming these political obstacles can lead to award winning results, as when the city of San Jose and the San Jose State University merged their library systems. “National League of Cities James C. Howland Awards for Municipal Enrichment  ….an award winning idea for cities (2005)… ….

The King Library is both a public and academic library, built where the city and campus meet so that it can be shared by the entire community.  ‘Great cities have great libraries, and we’re very proud that the King Library in San José has received this national recognition with the Howland Award.’ said San José Mayor Ron Gonzales. ‘Our unique partnership between City Hall and San José State University has become a national model as a creative and successful solution that enriches the quality of life for our residents through community innovation and vision.'”   Perhaps this discussion needs to be taken to a whole new level… with better technology for modeling these complex organizational change processes (we use HPC (High Performance Computing) to model climate change, why not organizational change at the level of cities?).   As many have discussed the key to overcoming the “staff reduction” political hurtle is to “upskill” people to higher value jobs…   educational institutions are in the business of upskilling people…   people move from farms to factories, and factories to office buildings …. more pay and more satisfying work are the keys to overcoming the major political obstacle to this kind of needed “shared service and shared governance” change in service systems, especially urban service systems.   Another hurtle, perhaps even more of an obstacle is when people hear “shared service and shared governance” and think “diluting or blending my culture or heritage” — this is another real-world obstacle to implementing “shared service and shared governance” — Nevertheless, sports teams, orchestra, and other institutions, play a very important “regional identity” role that transcends many boundaries, and helps unite people across great cultural diversity, if only for a short time during a recreational event.      The practical reality is that blending cultures is a socially sensitive issue which thwarts many possibilities that might otherwise make economic sense….  however, service systems do exist that can help mitigate the problem, and probably even better ones can be designed, especially if one starts educating people early enough about the benefits of shared service and shared governance as a mechanism to free many people up form lower skill, lower satisfaction activities for higher skill, higher satisfaction activities.   Job-career-calling is the progression that some of us talk about…   These are complex problems, with no simple answers…. but a deeper understanding of holistic service systems – service systems like cities and universities that deal with transportation, water, food, energy, communications, buildings, retail, finance, health, education, and governance – especially, a deeper understanding of holistic service systems from an economic geography perspective would be most helpful.    We did have economic geographers contribute to our recent book “The Handbook of Service Science” in a chapter entitled “Service Worlds: The ‘Services Duality’ and the Rise of the ‘Manuservice’ Economy,” by John R. Bryson and Peter W. Daniels.   Bryson is at University of Birmingham, UK, and Vice President of RESER ( – European Association for REsearch in SERvices.

One Comment

  1. #jimspohrer The merging of the library systems of the City of San Jose and San Jose State University into the San Jose Public Library is a brilliant example of organizations coming together in a smarter way.

    From a systems perspective, both institutions serve similar functions, presumably with a heritage of different audiences. Functionally, however, combining resources should enable some improved efficiencies. Looking at the locations and hours of the San Jose Public Library, I would hope that the released resources might result in higher service levels across a larger population, rather than a reduction in service across the board.

Leave a Reply