Applications of Network Analysis in Community and Economic Development Networks

In this section, we first discuss how network analysis has been used to study EDO networks and economic development policy network. We review how key measures of network analysis have been used to describe network structure and organizations’ position and roles in community and economic development networks. Furthermore, we illustrate how structural processes, such as reciprocity and transitivity, influence the formation of economic development networks. Then, we introduce a more specific type of economic development network—transportation planning networks—through the lens of a regional transportation partnership, MetroPlan Orlando ( about-us/). We discuss the key actors in a metropolitan transportation planning network and analyze multiplex interactions among public, nonprofit, and private organizations.

Measures of network analysis have been used to describe the structural characteristics of economic development networks and identify influential actors in economic development. For instance, Compion and colleagues (2015) studied the EDO network in rural Kentucky that includes 98 EDOs and their interactions in information sharing, referrals, resources sharing, and joint projects. They found that a network density of .079 and suggested that the EDO network is disconnected, because only 7.9 percent of ties that could be potentially built among EDOs existed in that network. They also examined the connectedness in each of the four subnetworks: information sharing network, referral network, resource sharing network, and joint project network. They found that information sharing network is denser than the other three networks, and resource network is least connected. They also used eigenvalue centrality—a measure of influence—to identify the central actors in the EDO network. Researchers also use average degree to describe the number of links an organization has on average (e.g., Lee et al„ 2012). Lee et al. (2012) studied the informal policy communication network in the Kissimmee-Orlando metropolitan area (including Lake. Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties) that includes 38 local and county governments. They asked top economic development officials or city mangers whether their govermnent interacted with other governments on economic development issues, in the form of discussion. advice, and information sharing. They found on average, of the 31 local governments that responded to the survey, each local government has approximately 6 links with other local governments to communicate about economic development issues.

Going beyond descriptive network analysis, researchers have used inferential network analysis such as Quadratic Assignment Procedure (QAP) analysis and Exponential Random Graph Model (ERGM) to understand the dynamics of tie formation among local governments (e.g., Hawkins et al., 2016; Lee et al., 2012). There is multiplexity effect in network formation: one type of relationships may influence the formation of another type of relationship (Lusher, Koskinen, & Robin, 2012). For instance, perceived cooperative relationship may encourage local governments to form ties (Lee et al., 2012). Informal policy communication network may increase the likelihood of building formal collaboration ties among local governments (Hawkins et al., 2016). Researchers also studied the influence of structural processes such as reciprocity, transitivity, popularity (the number of indegree ties), and bridging (2-path), on the formation of the collaborative interorganizational development networks (Lee et al., 2012). Table 11.2 explains these concepts and applications in community and economic development networks in detail.

Next, we discuss a transportation planning network through the lens of an organization—MetroPlan Orlando. MetroPlan Orlando was created in 1977 to carry out the transportation planning process in the central Florida area, covering Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties (MetroPlan Orlando, 2018). MetroPlan Orlando receives its funding from federal grants, state grants, and local per capita assessments. Its website lists funding partners, including the following organizations listed in Table 11.3.

The MetroPlan Orlando Board is the governing body of the organization, which is responsible for the implementation of transportation planning in the three-county area. Board members are elected officials from three counties

Table 11.2 Structural Processes in Community and Economic Development Networks

Stivctural processes


Examples in community and economic dex’elopment

Reciprocity effect: In a directed network, a tie fr om A to В encourages В to form a tie with A (Lusher et al.. 2012).

Government A reached out to government В for advice on economic development issues, government В is likely to turn to A for advice (Lee et al.. 2012).

Transitivity effect: one measure of network closure. A has a tie with В. В has a tie with C. then A has a tie with C (Lusher et al., 2012).

Government A tends to build a tie government C, because A already has a tie with B. and В has a tie with C. Governments creates this clustered structure to enhance commitments (Lee et al., 2012).

Non-closed 2-patli effect: A can connect with C through В. В serves as a broker (Lusher et al., 2012).

Government A will connect with government C through a broker government B. Governments creates this bridging structure to seek efficient information exchange.

Popularity effect: It measures whether network ties concentrate on a few nodes. For undirected network, n-star measures the number of links a node has. hi a directed network popular ity measures the number of indegree ties and outdegree ties (Lusher et al., 2013).

Among the three governments A. B. and C, government E tends to form a tie with A. because A is popular with many ties that enable A to play important role in sharing information and coordinating action (Lee etal., 2012).

Multiplexity effect: one type of relationship may affect the formation of another type of relationship (Lusher et al., 2013).

Informal policy communication between government A and В may encourage these two governments to build formal ties in economic development (Hawkins etal., 2016).

198 Applications

Table 11.3 Funding Agencies for MetroPlan Orlando

Funding Organizations

Sector Type

City of Altamonte Springs

City government

City of Apopka

City government

Central Florida Express Authority

Independent agency of the state

US Department of Transportation

Federal government

Florida Department of Transportation

State government

Greater Orlando Aviation Authority

City government agency

City of Kissimmee

City government


Bus corporation run by run by the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority

Orange County Government

County government

City of Orlando

City government

Osceola County

County government

City of Sanford

City government

Orlando Sanford International Airport

City government agency

Seminole County

County government

Municipal Advisory Committee

Committee of city governments that are less populated

(Source MetroPlan Orlando, 2018)

and large cities in the area and representatives from the region’s transportation agencies (MetroPlan Orlando, 2018). In addition to the governing board, there are many committees that guide the operation of MetroPlan Orlando, as listed in Table 11.4. The diverse committees not only bring local, state, and federal agencies, but also include community members, business leaders, and community advocates in the transportation planning process, thereby forming a network of planning organizations, transportation authorities, governments, community organizations, and citizen groups. Members listed in the board and multiple coimnittees are the key actors in the transportation planning network in Orlando metropolitan area. The organizations со-listed on the same board or coimnittee creates an affiliation network, which includes the organizations and their affiliation with the board or committee. MetroPlan Orlando is a network administrative organization (NAO) in the transportation planning network that coordinates efforts from different groups of stakeholders. MetroPlan Orlando also organized forums and working groups for the involved stakeholders to share important information, discuss priorities, and work on specific transportation issues (MetroPlan Orlando, 2018). The interactions that occur in these forums working groups, and the relationships built through forums and working groups, are important for establishing transportation priorities in the region and build formal transportation partnerships.

Figure 11.1 uses hypothetical data to visualize the ego network of MetroPlan Orlando to illustrate the complex relations that involve working on the same transportation project(s), giving advice, and serving on the same advisory

Networks in Community and Economic Development 199 Table 11.4 Committees in MetroPlan Orlando



Community Advisory Committee (CAC)

Members include transportation advocates, community, and business representatives.

Municipal Advisory Committee (MAC)

Members include elected officials of cities that are less populated and do not serve on the governing board.

Teclmical Advisory Committee (TAC)

Members are engineers, plans, and other teclmical staff from local governments and transportation agencies.

Transportation Systems Management & Operations Advisory Committee (TSMOAC)

Members include technical experts from federal, state, regional, and local agencies and a community advocate.

Transportation Disadvantaged Local Coordinating Board (TDLCB)

Members include representatives from local governments and transportation providers to address the needs of the disadvantaged in the region.

Source: MetroPlan Orlando, 2018

A Transportation Planning Network

Figure 11.1 A Transportation Planning Network

committee. MetroPlan Orlando (M) works with multiple city and county governments, represented by A, B, and C, as well as private companies such as LYNX (represented by D) on local transportation projects. The width of the line between M and C is wider, indicating that M and C work on multiplex projects together. These relationships are nondirectional. MetroPlan Orland also has directional ties with government agencies, nonprofit and private organizations (represented by triangles and squares respectively). The directional lie can be advice tie through which organizations E, F, G. and H give management advice to M. Organization pairs H and G, H and G have ties because both organizations serve on the same committee of M, hence forming a relation. Additional survey data can be collected to further understand the interactions and relationships among organizations in the transportation planning network.

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