Outline of the Book

In Chapter 1, our review of the literature on governance networks leads us to suggest that networks have always been an integral feature of democratic governments and intersector arrangements; however, contemporary trends have accentuated the importance that governance networks play in modern democracies. These trends include the emergence of “wicked problems,” the move to privatize government services, the move of government to partner with sector stakeholders to provide public goods at reduced costs, and the more recent turn to regulate and nationalize. Recognizing that while governance networks have been with us since the beginning of the American democratic experience, it is clear that the range and depth of innovations in governance networks places them in a different stage of development, which raises serious questions that deserve our attention. While there are positive benefits to governance networks, there are also significant challenges, particularly with regard to how governance networks are to be administered, the nature of “democratic anchorage” of these networks, and constructing ways in which governance network performance can be understood.

In Chapter 2, we offer a conceptual framework to assess governance networks that conceives of networks as a kind of participant relationship that is evident in all forms of macro relations: markets, hierarchies, and collaboratives. With this analytic frame, we assert that “mixed-form governance networks” account for markets and hierarchies as network forms alongside of “collaboratives” or partnerships. In this perspective, it is evident that mixed forms of governance networks operate across multiple sectors and in multiple geographic scales where mixed administrative authorities comprise of vertical, horizontal, and diagonal relational ties. To get to this perspective, we develop an understanding as to the ways in which network metaphors and analytical frameworks have been employed within the public administration, policy studies, and governance fields, and highlight discrepancies across the literature and their concerns in regard to the relationship between network structures, and markets and hierarchies.

Central to our work presented here is the belief we hold that the presentation of a conceptual framework of mixed-form governance networks allows us to develop a means for creating a taxonomy of governance networks characteristics, and ultimately describing the many different ways that stable governance networks arise and carry out one or more functions related to the policy stream. The next task is to develop a set of network characteristics as a matter of developing multiple layers of analysis—from the characteristics of individual network actors, to the nature of the ties between actors, to the nature of network-wide characteristics, to ultimately, systems-wide characteristics that position governance networks within broader external environments.

In Chapter 3, the focus is placed on the network actor: the most basic component of governance networks. We refer to network actors as nodes that represent social actors with various unique goals and roles within the network shaped by the sector they represent (public, private, or nonprofit). These nodes are to be understood to have a definitive geographic scale (local, regional, province/state, national, or international) as well as a social scale (the nesting of individuals, groups, organizations, and networks of organizations) that shape their interests and role in the network. Nodes are also influenced by their place in the network (center and periphery) and capital resources. The characteristics of each node noted above uniquely shape nodal behavior and influence the nature of network patterns and the roles played in the emergent social exchange of resources.

Chapter 4 focuses on the ties among and between nodes in the network. The central feature of nodal ties is resource exchange. From social network analysis, we assert that the relation among nodes shapes the kinds of administrative authorities among the nodes, and that the nature of resource exchange is shaped by the formality, strength, and coordination of nodal ties. We refer to these as the vector of ties, or the ties among administrative authorities. Both the social ties (strength and coupling) shaped by nodal context characteristics (outlined in Chapter 3) and the vector of administrative ties shape the governance network and determine resource exchange. This “multiplex” of ties can assist in assessing network stability.

In Chapter 5, interorganizational governance network configurations and operations are described and placed within policy streams. Emphasis in this chapter is placed on the nested nature of three network-wide functions that are performed by governance networks: operating functions (coordination, mobilization, information sharing, capacity building, learning), policy stream functions (defining and framing problems, policy planning, policy coordination and implementation, policy evaluation, policy alignment), and policy domain functions that are issue or domain specific.

Chapter 6 reviews six kinds of network-wide structures: intergovernmental, intragovernmental, interest group coalitions, regulatory subsystems, grant and contract agreements, and public-private partnerships. These arrangements are linked to use of “policy tools” in the work of Lester Salamon (2002b). From a systems perspective, governance networks are viewed in terms of functions needed within the system and the structures designed to achieve these functions.

In Chapter 7, we shift again the level of discourse on governance networks and examine them within the perspective of system dynamics. Relying on certain elements of complex systems theory, we offer a way to conceive of governance networks as a series of inputs, processes, outputs, and outcomes with positive and negative feedback that contribute to understanding the nature of regulation and governance of governance networks. The imagery we attempt to offer allows for the reader to consider the dimensions of governance networks as working patterns of a holistic, dynamic system. We believe the systems perspective provides one avenue to examine the role and function of governance networks shaped by the interplay of the parts of the system and how these contribute or detract from system-wide goals. We believe that this perspective will contribute to discussions later in the book with regard to critical considerations regarding governance networks, namely, administrative, accountability, and performance considerations. This chapter sets the stage in providing perspective to address the central challenges concomitant with the emergent character of mixed-form governance networks.

In Chapter 8, we argue that mixed-form governance networks reflect selective administrative characteristics of four paradigms of public administration: classical, new public management, collaborative public management, and governance network management. From this integration, the chapter directs its attention to the roles that individual public administrators take within governance networks. Clearly, public managers play a critical role participating in and administering governance networks, particularly ensuring democratic anchorage and network performance. These are difficult challenges given the complexity of administering across boundaries. Our review of the literature in this chapter suggests a number of promising administrative skills and management strategies in active and performing governance networks. We highlight the avenue available for the public administrator to enhance participatory governance. Most important, we assert that the role of the public administrator in governance networks should be viewed as evolutionary and emergent, as one of continuous adjustment, calling upon skills that assert both adaptive and directive qualities. Such is the demand on the public administrator managing in interdependent contexts.

With Chapter 9, we turn to the challenge of governance network accountability. From a systems perspective, we view accountability as representative of the structures that participate within the governance network and guided by the nature of the interdependencies of network participants and their sector characteristics. This view of accountability is very different than ones traditionally conceived between two participants bound within a hierarchy and reflects a more interdependent and complex character of governance networks. Simply put: Network accountability is a system-level construct—one that is shaped by the accountability structures of the individual parts of the network. As such, the accountability structures examined in this chapter are constructed around accountability regimes that represent the participants and the operations of the network.

With Chapter 10, we explore network performance. Performance measurement is often viewed as the systematic application of information to assess success. To assess network governance performance, we again turn to a system frame of reference and discuss the kinds of challenges that are operable within interorganizational governance networks. The administrative challenge here is developing appropriate information that enhances participation and improves the functioning of feedback loops. Clearly, performance measurement is challenging within organizations, and when we move our attention to governance networks, these challenges are accentuated.

Chapter 11 highlights the central themes that are discussed in this book. What is apparent is that the use of governance networks is expanding, along with their complexity in terms of size and scope. We feel one way to begin to assess governance networks is to understand their basic components (nodes, ties, and functions), their arrangements, and the challenges related to their administration, accountability, and performance. We believe this taxonomic approach provides a basis to build our knowledge about governance networks and to improve our understanding of the challenges and opportunities they offer.

We conclude in Chapter 12 by returning to the need to understand and support the normative basis through which governance networks obtain their democratic legitimacy. We discuss the relationship between public values, public interests, and governance networks and make the claim that governance network analysis is rooted in theories of democracy, in addition to the range of systems and network theory discussed in this book.

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