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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Creating and Sustaining Regional Collaboration in Silicon Valley? The Case of Joint Venture: Silicon Valley

  • Author(s): Saxenian, AnnaLee
  • Dabby, Nadya Chinoy
  • et al.

Since 1995, the James Irvine Foundation has invested more than $11 million to support the growth and development of Collaborative Regional Initiatives (CRIs) throughout the state -- nonprofit organizations that engage key players from business, environmental, and a variety of other advocacy groups with players from local governments and public agencies to create improvements in their regions. CRIs work on issues ranging across transportation, land use, housing, and economic development. They work in a variety of ways from developing legislation to media campaigns to practical work on particular projects. All are directed at building civic capacity and filling in gaps where government does not or cannot act. Some CRIs have been in place for years; others are more recently formed. They represent experiments in regional governance. Recently, the Irvine Foundation tapped a team of Berkeley faculty to perform an assessment of the CRIs so the foundation can target its resources in order to make them effective and sustainable over time and assist them in producing valuable outcomes for their regions. City planning professor Judith Innes, who led the complex evaluation, teamed with city planning professors AnnaLee Saxenian, Karen Christensen, Karen Chapple and political science professor Judith Gruber to focus on the projects and programs that a sample of CRIs engage in, asking which are most successful and why. In particular, the researchers examined how variables like leadership, resources, diversity of participation, processes of dialogue and collaboration, and the ways problems have been framed contribute to the degree of success in each program. The work is designed to assist the CRIs with strategies to select and build the successes of their programs and to help them overcome obstacles and identify opportunities for effective work.

Together, the researchers published case studies of four major CRIs -- the Bay Area Alliance for Sustainable Communities, Joint Venture: Silicon Valley, the San Diego Dialogue and the Sierra Business Council -- as well as an analysis of regional workforce development collaboratives in California.

Joint Venture: Silicon Valley (JVSV) brought together business, government and civic leaders and established itself as a regional convener committed to enhancing the economy and quality of life in the Silicon Valley region. Using solid data to inform its decisions and measure its progress, the organization was responsive and helped change the landscape of Silicon Valley. "Its successes in the 1990s can be attributed to three factors: strong leadership, a responsive organizational structure, and the venture capital model for regional problem solving," says Professor Saxenian. "The group identified pressing issues, established action plans and produced results by mobilizing groups of civic leaders to generate the ideas and the funding for a variety of projects." Among its accomplishments, JVSV contributed to economic growth and development in Silicon Valley, prepared a well-known regional index for the region, improved technological infrastructure, promoted a regional conversation about pressing issues and provided resources for educational reform.

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