Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Ann Frost

2nd Supervisor

Dr. Claus Rerup

Joint Supervisor


Making progress on stubborn social problems, such as street level prostitution, requires local actors to work together in new ways across organizational boundaries. Organizational routines – defined as repetitive, recognizable patterns of interdependent actions carried out by multiple actors – are considered one of the primary means through which organizations accomplish the work they do. In my thesis, I argue that an important way to tackle stubborn social problems is through brokering, across organizational boundaries, to build and coordinate an ecology of routines. To better understand this process, I explore the following questions: How is the role of broker established? How do brokers influence routine performances, and coordinate multiple routines, across organizational boundaries? I answer these questions by studying the first ten years of the River City Police Persons at Risk (PAR) Program, and the actions of a broker building and then coordinating an ecology of routines to help women caught in a revolving door of addictions, prostitution, and trips through the criminal justice system.

I argue this ecology of routines achieved superior outcomes because a police sergeant established her role as trusted and knowledgeable broker, and used this role to convince actors in the justice system and over 40 agencies to perform their routines more flexibly, to change the patterning of their routines, and to create new routines for sex workers. The broker became the hub connecting an ecology of routines – coordinating justice system routines to motivate sex workers to seek help and agencies routines to provide that help. My study makes three contributions. First, by following the co-creation of opportunities to broker and the ability to broker, I develop a process model of brokering that extends our understanding of how actors establish and continue to enhance their role as broker. Second, I move beyond recent work on established ecologies of routines in a single organization to show how brokers can build and coordinate ecologies of routines across organizational boundaries. Finally, I extend our understanding of collaborative case management models by showing how brokers help agencies to perform their work in new ways to address stubborn social problems.