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Policy networks: the relation between structure and performance
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Business Administration, Technology and Social Sciences, Social Sciences.
2008 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The importance of policy networks and the need to treat networks seriously have long been emphasized within the field of policy science. However, not many attempts have been made to investigate the explanatory power of policy networks using the tools and theoretical concepts provided by social network analysis (SNA). This historical limitation is the central undertaking of the current thesis, which sets out to clarify the possible relationship between network structure and the organizing capacities and performance of policy networks. Not only is the aim to elucidate how different network qualities affect performance, but the thesis also has a methodological aim of indicating in what ways SNA contributes to and enhances policy network research. Based on the theoretical concepts policy, networks, institutions, and social capital, an analytical framework is formed. A set of hypotheses regarding how network structures are believed to affect the performance of policy networks is suggested. Two particular network qualities-namely, network closure and network heterogeneity-are proposed as central for the process and its outcome. The former reflects the internal structure of a network in terms of density and centralization, while the latter reflects how the network is connected to other networks and addresses its level of diversity and cross-boundary character. The empirical part of the thesis consists of three case studies, in which policy processes within different policy sectors are studied. The empirical analysis confirms the existence of a relationship between network structure and performance. As the level of network closure increases, so does the capability to prioritize, thereby enhancing efficiency. However, the level of network heterogeneity is positively related to the function of resource mobilization, which, in turn, is a central prerequisite for improved effectiveness. The thesis concludes that a significant explanatory power exists in the concept of policy networks and that SNA is a promising way to explore its possibilities, enhancing policy research and the conceptual and theoretical developments within the field. Finally, the implications of the findings for contemporary policy making and public administration are discussed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Luleå: Luleå tekniska universitet, 2008. , 211 p.
Doctoral thesis / Luleå University of Technology 1 jan 1997 → …, ISSN 1402-1544 ; 2008:25
Research subject
Political Science
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-16933Local ID: 0c446340-2576-11dd-9e62-000ea68e967bOAI: diva2:989924
Godkänd; 2008; 20080519 (ysko)Available from: 2016-09-29 Created: 2016-09-29Bibliographically approved

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