This article describes a study that seeks to understand why agencies do not engage in legal and ethical information sharing despite a growing policy movement that advocates for inter-agency collaboration and data exchange.
The study described in this article seeks to explore the social contexts that inform the use of inter-agency information sharing in order to explain agencies' failures to legally and ethically share information about their clients despite policy efforts that encourage information sharing. The study looked at agencies across four policy sectors and collected data through qualitative interviews with front-line staff and their managers. The study’s hypothesis was that variations in information-sharing practices would be explained by systematic differences in institutional settings. Ultimately, the authors determined that failure to improve information sharing practices, despite national policy efforts, was a result of minimal social integration of these practices, meaning that, although agency policies promoted information sharing, front-line workers often did not actually engage in information sharing practices.