Network Analysis of Public Sector Coordination and Collaboration: Conceptual and Methodological Applications

David Dornisch

Over the last 15 years research into the functioning and effectiveness of government has paid increasing attention to coordination, cooperation, and collaboration within and across organizations and agencies. This reflects the fundamental observation that as the complexity of the public policy-making and — implementation process in and around government has grown the need to coordinate the efforts of multiple actors and organizations has also grown. In general, this huge literature has been based heavily on qualitative and case study-based research and analytical methods. There have been a number of quantitative applications as well, but these are dwarfed by the former. This paper argues that research on public sector coordination, cooperation, and collaboration, both in its qualitative and quantitative realizations, could benefit greatly by employing social and organizational network analytical methods and concepts. Employing network analysis can assist greatly with specifying measures, generating hypotheses, and operationalizing theories underlying research on coordination structures and processes. This paper 1) discuss es the use to date of social and organizational network analysis in the public administration and policy field; 2) identifies several key assumptions and premises underlying network analysis and the implications of those assumptions for studying and understanding public sector coordination; 3) identifies important methodological considerations underlying the collection of network data and relates these to methodological considerations for studying coordination more generally; 4) presents an array of specific concepts and findings the broader network analysis research field and shows how these can be used to operationalize or inform our understanding of coordination concepts, structures, and processes.

Subjects: 7.1 Multi-Agent Systems; 12.1 Reinforcement Learning

Submitted: Jun 20, 2008

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