Network Governance School (NWG)

The network governance school has primarily been concerned with a set of macro-level examinations of the changing role of the state and state-society relationships (Chhotray & Stoker, 2009; Pierre & Peters, 2000; Rhodes, 2007; Sorenson & Torfing, 2007). Marinetto has argued that networks have become the dominant mode of governance and that the powers of states have been diminished upwards by international organisations, downwards by the marketisation of the public sector and sideways by the creation of arm’s length agencies (Marinetto, 2003). However, Jessop claims that although states may have become less hierarchical over time, this trend does not necessarily ‘exclude a continuing and central political role for nation states’ in establishing the ground rules and contexts within which governance occurs (Jessop, 2007). This phenomenon implies that the activities of self-regulating networks may be negotiated under hierarchical conditions; under these conditions, the state may explicitly or implicitly threaten to impose certain binding rules or laws on private actors to change the behaviours of these private actors (Hamza, 2013).

Networks thus emerge as the key space for policy interaction. In these networks, interaction does not take a hierarchic (vertical) form, but emerges horizontally or organically.

The network governance (NWG) school and the policy network analysis (PNA) school mainly focus on network governance, these two schools share a common interest in networks; however different to the NWG school, the PNA school has been more concerned with micro-level examinations about the relationships among policy-making outcomes, the structure of a network and the inclusion or exclusion of certain individuals or groups from the network in question (Fawcett & Daugbjerg, 2012).

Related terms: Network, Network theory, Networked Governance, Policy Governance, Policy Network Analysis (PNA), Public Governance


Chhotray, V. & Stoker, G., 2009. Governance Theory and Practice: A Cross Disciplinary Approach. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.

Fawcett, P. & Daugbjerg, C., 2012. Explaining Governance Outcomes: Epistemology, Network Governance and Policy Network Analysis. Political Studies Review, 10(2), p.195–208.

Jessop, B., 2007. State Power: A Strategic-Relational Approach. Cambridge: Polity

Hamza, K., 2013. The Impact of Social Media and Network Governance on State Stability in Time of Turbulences: Egypt After 2011 Revolution. PhD Thesis. Brussels: Vrije Universiteit Brussel Institute for European Studies.

Pierre, J. & Peters, B., 2000. Governance, politics and the state. New York: Martin's Press.

Marinetto, M., 2003. Governing beyond the Centre: A Critique of the Anglo-Governance School. Public Administration, 51(3), pp.592-608.

Rhodes, R.A.W., 2007. Understanding Governance: Ten Years On. Organization Studies, 28(8), pp.1243-64.

Sorenson, E. & Torfing, J., 2007. Theories of democratic network governance. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

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