MPA Major Research Papers

Date of Award


Degree Type

Major Research Paper

Degree Name

Master of Public Administration


Political Science


Jennifer Kirkham

Geographical Areas



This research paper examines the outcome of the City of Toronto's Shared Services foundation project. Drawing on the lessons learned from previous shared services projects at the City, it aims to answer the question: "What factors promote or discourage shared services between a local government and its agencies?" The paper conducts a systematic literature review with the aim of discovering a candidate set of factors that promote or discourage participation in shared services between a local government and its agencies. It then uses the literature review to explore the potential for future shared services between the City of Toronto and its agencies. Documentary research of the City of Toronto shared services' archival documents and external websites is performed. Employing content analysis methods and a desk research strategy, the paper finds that clearly articulated benefits such as long-term financial sustainability, risk management, and compliance are critical incentives for shared services implementation. Committed senior leadership, a phased approach to implementation, and common IT applications are critical success factors. This paper will contribute to the decision making capability of the City of Toronto's Division heads as well as the inter-agency shared services body of knowledge. It will also connect to the broader public administration conversation of multi-level governance and the relationships between special purpose bodies and their home municipal governments.