Network Theory in the Public Sector: Building New Theoretical Frameworks, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Network Theory in the Public Sector

Building New Theoretical Frameworks, 1st Edition

Edited by Robyn Keast, Myrna P Mandell, Robert Agranoff


218 pages

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Networks have been described in terms of metaphors, governance arrangements and structural or institutional arrangements. These different perspectives of networks come out of a variety of disciplines, including political science, public administration, urban affairs, social welfare, public management and organizational/sociological research. This wealth of research, while contributing to a deeper understanding of networks, presents a dilemma which is addressed by this book. That is the question of whether there is a theory of public networks that informs networks in their various forms, and is there a need for a new theory of networks? More importantly, is network research still relevant to practice? Does network theory improve the process of governance? Are different terms and/or approaches actually the same or different? What do these different approaches mean to theory?

This book deeply explores and integrates existing network theory and related theories from a number of perspectives, levels and jurisdictions to develop a framework to guide network design, governance and management. The book focuses on the important issue of network performance, looking at networks as bounded and consciously arranged; the actors who participate in them design the relationships among a bounded set of individual organizations to purse common objectives. Finally, the chapters tease out the variety of governance modes or regimes that intersect with network governance. This book offers a comprehensive, integrative, interdisciplinary approach that enables specialists, practitioners and administrators across a wide array of interests and fields to formulate and work on problems using a common language, analytical framework and theoretical basis.


"At last we have in one volume a theoretical framework to guide network design, governance and management, combined with illuminating case studies."Jenny Lewis, University of Melbourne, Australia

"Research over the past decades has made it clear that our governance systems are increasingly characterized as networks. Our effort in uncovering and examining networks has been insightful and it is time to take stock of the accumulation of this work and assess our status. Network Theory in the Public Sector accomplishes this task and addresses the challenging concern in contemporary public administration: is there a theory of public networks that informs public management, design and governance? With a compilation of articles from the leading researchers, this volume represents the most cutting edge and insightful treatment on the subject to date. Scholars, managers, and students of governance will be well served in reading this work, as it will be a landmark volume for many years to come." - Jack Meek, University of La Verne, USA

Table of Contents

Part 1. Introduction to the Issues/Current Network Theories 1. Introduction: Understanding Theory Myrna P. Mandell 2. Network Theory Tracks and Trajectories: Where From, Where To? Robyn KeastPart 2. New Theoretical Frameworks: Informing Design, Governance Arrangements and Management 3. A Composite Theory of Leadership and Management: Process Catalyst and Strategic Leveraging—Theory of Deliberate Action in Collaborative Networks Robyn Keast and Myrna P. Mandell 4. Building and Using the Theory of Collaborative Advantage Siv Vangen and Chris Huxham 5. The Democratic Potentials of Governance Networks in Inter- Governmental Decision Making Eva Sørensen 6. Governance Network Performance: A Complex Adaptive Systems Approach Christopher Koliba 7. Governing Through Networks: A Systemic Approach Deborah Rice 8. Network Management Theory through Management Channels and Roles Joris Voets Part 3. Putting Theory into Practice 9. Network Management Behaviors: Closing the Theoretical Gap Robert Agranoff and Michael McGuire 10. What Can Governance Network Theory Learn From Complexity Theory? Mirroring Two Perspectives on Complexity Joop Koppenjan and Erik-Hans Klijn 11. Network Performance: Towards A Dynamic Multidimensional Model Denita Cepiku Part 4. Implications and Conclusion 12. Bridging the Theoretical Gap and Uncovering the Missing Holes Robert Agranoff

About the Editors

Robyn Keast is a professor in the Southern Cross University Business School. Her research is focused on networked arrangements and collaborative practices within and across sectors. She recently co-authored Negotiating the Business Environment: Theory and Practice for all Governance Styles and is working on Social Procurement and New Public Governance, Routledge as well as the development of several network tools for service practitioners.

Myrna P. Mandell is emeritus professor, California State University and Adjunct Professor Southern Cross University, Australia. Her work includes articles, books and chapters on a number of different facets of networks, including: how to organize and manage networks, performance measures for networks, and leadership in networks. She has also done workshops, presentations and projects as a visiting professor internationally and is also the co-author of a number of publications on collaboration through networks specifically for practitioners in the public and non-profit sectors.

Robert Agranoff is Professor Emeritus, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University, USA, and Professor, Government and Public Administration Program, Instituto Universitario Ortega y Gasset, Madrid, Spain. He specializes in public and intergovernmental management and in collaborative and network management.

About the Series

Routledge Critical Studies in Public Management

The study and practice of public management has undergone profound changes across the world. Over the last quarter century, we have seen

  • the increasing criticism of public administration as the over-arching framework for the provision of public services
  • the rise (and critical appraisal) of the ‘New Public Management’ as an emergent paradigm for the provision of public services
  • the transformation of the ‘public sector’ into the cross-sectoral provision of public services
  • the growth of the governance of inter-organizational relationships as an essential element in the provision of public services

In reality these trends have not so much replaced each other as elided or co-existed together – the public policy process has not gone away as a legitimate topic of study, intra-organizational management continues to be essential to the efficient provision of public services, whist the governance of inter-organizational and inter-sectoral relationships is now essential to the effective provision of these services.

This series is dedicated to presenting and critiquing this important body of theory and empirical study. It will publish books that both explore and evaluate the emergent and developing nature of public administration, management and governance (in theory and practice) and examine the relationship with and contribution to the over-arching disciplines of management and organizational sociology. Books in the series will be of interest to academics and researchers in this field, students undertaking advanced studies, and reflective policy makers and practitioners.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Nonprofit Organizations & Charities
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Government & Business