Dual control is a state of organizational grace where top-down, authoritative control coexists with horizontal, market or social network means of control of processes that support the mission of the organization and its constituents and partners. Achieving dual control is a challenging prospect, as it represents something of a paradox. While authoritative control tends toward absolute, centralized control of resources and authorities, horizontal control mechanisms tend to be distributed among actors that “earn their stripes” by virtue of their expertise and unique capabilities. Their standing results from the judgment of many, not always in ways that are obvious to third parties.
There are checks and balances between the parties, but proponents of authoritative control tend to have the trump card, the last say as to where horizontal forms of control can even exist in the system or sector. They exert primary control over resources, monetary and otherwise.
This is not to say that horizontal control actors don't have the power to grant or take away an organization's relevance and the popularity of its offerings, but authoritative cooperation if not supported is an existential thing. Authorities can shut down horizontal control networks directly by cutting off their resources or achieve similar objectives through inattention and mismanagement. Furthermore, authorities can destroy horizontal networks purposefully. The motives may be simply from jealousy or misunderstanding. They may wish to exert arbitrary behavior that would be more difficult with “experts” on the scene. As organizational leaders control resources as well as administer public missions, their support is critical, particularly where programs, relationships, and networks are in the formative stages. Continued sponsorship and support of authorities is necessary to keep networks of cooperative parties alive, as such relationships tend to grow from tender shoots.
Opportunities arise from understanding and application of dual control principles. Many public sector situations as we understand them currently are outlined in this section.