New perspectives on the "silo effect": initial comparisons of network structures across public health collaboratives
OBJECTIVES: We explored to what extent "silos" (preferential partnering) persist in interorganizational boundaries despite advances in working across boundaries. We focused on organizational homophily and resulting silo effects within networks that might both facilitate and impede success in public health collaboratives (PHCs).
METHODS: We analyzed data from 162 PHCs with a series of exponential random graph models to determine the influence of uniform and differential homophily among organizations and to identify the propensity for partnerships with similar organizations.
RESULTS: The results demonstrated a low presence (8%) of uniform homophily among networks, whereas a greater number (30%) of PHCs contained varying levels of differential homophily by 1 or more types of organization. We noted that the higher frequency among law enforcement, nonprofits, and public health organizations demonstrated a partner preference with similar organizations.
CONCLUSIONS: Although we identified only a modest occurrence of partner preference in PHCs, overall success in efforts to work across boundaries might be problematic when public health members (often leaders of PHCs) exhibit the tendency to form silos.