Policy Networks



Policy Networks

Policy networks describe formal and informal social relationships among interested parties that form agreements to achieve individual and common goals in public arenas. Policy networks are viewed differently by political scientists interested in policy formation, by public administration scholars interested in policy implementation, and by sociologists interested in influence relationships among network partners. The influences of policy networks, and their great variety, provide evidence of social interaction that influence social behavior and influence public value. Some view these forms of associations as working along side or even replacing formal government service and forming what has come to be described as governance. From another perspective, some forms of policy networks can be considered “dark” and there is a necessity to understanding how these operate as well as those that show promise.

Note: This article is published with the Encyclopedia of Public Administration and Public Policy. Marcel Dekker (2004).
(For further information contact Jack W. Meek)

Understanding Policy Networks

This article first attends to the evolution of the term “policy networks” and how the term has been used to depict influence in policy development. This section includes the definitional characteristics of networks. The article next examines a number of implications of policy networks, including the management and performance of policy networks. A final note on how governance and urban complexity are linked to the emergence and proliferation of policy networks in urban settings. By way of introduction, the suggestion is offered that urban settings represent conditions of complexity that develop corresponding organizational structures (networks) in response. The connection between condition and response is only suggestive in hope that further thinking about the emergence of networks can be examined. The point is that contextual matters do shape organizational energies and responses guided by various public leaderships. Yet, one can conjecture that there may be multiple reasons that give rise to the formation of networks.

Noted: this paper has been submitted to Phil O’Hara, Global Political Economy Research Unit, Curtin University of Technology, Australia, for publication in the International Encyclopedia of Public Policy: Governance in a Global Age (forthcoming).
(For further information contact Jack W. Meek)

Governance and Networks: Understanding the Citistate

This paper examines the role of formal and informal networks (associations) as influential in the management of urban systems. Some of these networks are not typically considered formal institutions but by their nature play a central role in the governance of the region. The paper examines how these networks assist public administrators in maintaining public good that goes beyond institutional borders and enhances the well being of citizens within their borders.

This paper was presented at the PAT-NET Conference, “Changing Discourses: Democracy, Institutions, and Civic Space,” University of Leiden, Netherlands, June 20-21, 2001. The panel was entitled “Government and Governance in the Modern City-State.”
(For further information contact Jack W. Meek)

Policy Networks: Implications for Policy Development and Implementation

This paper reviews the emerging literature on policy networks and examines experiences of participants within what has been defined as “formal, functional” networks. The literature suggests that policy implementation is best viewed in terms of patterns of relationships among various network partners and partnerships which define how government programs are run. These relationships can be viewed as interdependencies which behave differently from and run counter to the more traditional and standard understanding of hierarchically managed and controlled government service implementation. The paper next suggests a typology of networks framed mostly from the context of a local government perspective. This typology was used to address descriptive characteristics of networks as reported by selected participants in local governmental and quasi-governmental networks in the Greater Los Angeles area. Tentative findings are reported within the context of developing ideas for future research.

Note: This paper is published in Presentations: A Journal of Faculty Papers. Volume Eleven, University of La Verne (1998).

This paper was originally presented at the Southeastern Conference for Public Administration, Knoxville, Tennessee (1997).
(For further information contact Jack W. Meek)