Networked Governance

Networked governance is a common term in governance studies. Such networks comprise a wide variety of state actors or non-state actors with common interests in a specific political environment. (Political) Networks vary considerably regarding their degree of coherence or capability to alliance for specific issue. Networks may facilitate coordination of state and non-state actors interests and resources; in that respect sometimes these networks can enhance efficiency in the implementation of public policy. The state always has a form of interests exchange with key non-state actors in specific networks. But sometimes these networks may become sufficiently concerted and cohesive to resist or even challenge the state powers; and become self-regulatory structures within their political environment (Marsh & Smith, 2000; Rhodes, 1996; Rhodes 2000).

The relationship between the networks and the state could be described as one of mutual dependence. From the point of view of the state, networks can provide considerable expertise and interest representation and hence are potentially valuable components in the policy process. However, networks are held together by common interests that may challenge the interests of the state.

Networked governance is characterized by 1) interdependence between organizations, which sees governance as broader than government. 2) a reduction in the role of the formal institutions and agencies of the state and a greater role for non-state institutions. 3) continuing interactions between network members, caused by the need to exchange resources and negotiate shared purposes or interests, and 4) a significant degree of autonomy from the state, since these networks are not accountable to the state but they are more toward self-organizing (Rhodes, 1997; cf. Dijk & Winters-van Beek, 2009).

There have been a lot of studies focusing on networks governance in recent decades, and two main schools in this subject were identified, which are (1) The Network Governance School (NWG), and (2) The Policy Network Analysis School (PNA). Whereas NWG has been engaged in a set of macro level focus about the changing nature of state–society relations, PNA has been more concerned with a set of micro level focus about the relationship between policy making outcomes, the structure of a network and the inclusion or exclusion of certain individuals or groups from within that network (Fawcett & Daugbjerg, 2012).

Related terms: Network Governance School (NWG), Policy Network Analysis School (PNA), Governance, Hierarchic Governance, Network, Network Theory, Social Network Analysis


Dijk, J. & Winters-van Beek, A., 2009. The Perspective of Network Government: The Struggle Between Hierarchies, Markets and Networks as Modes of Governance in Contemporary Government. Innovation and the Public Sector, 14, pp.235-55.

Fawcett, P. & Daugbjerg, C., 2012. Explaining Governance Outcomes: Epistemology, Network Governance and Policy Network Analysis. POLITICAL STUDIES REVIEW, 10, p.195–207.

Marsh, D. & Smith, M., 2000. Understanding policy networks: towards a dialectical approach. Political Studies, 48(1), p.4–21.

Rhodes, R.A.W., 1996. The new governance: Governing without government. Political Studies, 44(4), pp.652-67.

Rhodes, R.A.W., 1997. Understanding governance: Policy networks, governance, reflexivity and accountability. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Rhodes, R.A.W., 2000. Governance and public administration. Oxford: Oxford University Press. In Debating governance: Authority, steering and democracy.


  • Policy Networks
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