Networks: structure and action : steering in and steering by policy networks


Dassen, Adrie (2010) Networks: structure and action : steering in and steering by policy networks. thesis.

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Abstract:This thesis explores the opportunities to build a structural policy network model that is rooted in
social network theories. By making a distinction between a process of steering in networks, and a
process of steering by networks, it addresses the effects of network structures on network
dynamics as well as on the production of policy outputs. Steering in policy networks refers to the
process of horizontal bargaining over policy positions in which resources are exchanged between
individual network actors. Steering by policy networks refers to the policy making processes in
which policy networks are utilized as policy instruments. The details of network configuration
profoundly influence individual actors’ capacities to influence such bargaining processes and the
social structures of policy networks change due to the process of steering in networks. The
individual, sequential actions that characterize bargaining over various resources nevertheless do
not explain how policy networks produce policy outputs. The study investigates how actor-based
models of network dynamics provide a theoretical point of departure for explaining firstly the
structural outcomes of steering in networks, and secondly the utility of any potential policy outputs
for both government and individual actors. Because of the interdependency between actors in
heterogeneous policy networks, outputs require subgroup-level coordination. There is therefore a
mismatch between individual and group utility – whilst some individuals will benefit from a sparse
network structure in negotiation processes, the optimum system outcome is produced by dense
and cohesive social structures. The study elaborates on this paradox and shows the utility of
different characteristics of network structures for both individual actors and government, and
presents hypotheses on the relations between policy goals, policy positions, network structures,
and the utility of policy outputs.
Item Type:Thesis
Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social sciences (BMS)
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