Inside Collaborative Networks: Ten Lessons for Public Managers

Source: Robert Agranoff, Public Administration Review, December 2006, Vol. 66 supplement

Based on extensive empirical research with federal, state and local government managers who work within intergovernmental collaborative networks, this article suggests new ways in which public agencies can overcome nettlesome policy conundrums while advancing the public interest. Although networks may differ significantly from organization to organization, the author emphasizes that the “era of networks” is a modern-day administrative reality that requires effective management, much like any other organizational structure.

This paper offers practical insights for public managers as they work within interorganizational networks. It is based on the author’s empirical study of 14 networks involving federal, state, and local government managers working with nongovernmental organizations. The findings suggest that networks are hardly crowding out the role of public agencies; though they are limited in their decision scope, they can add collaborative public value when approaching nettlesome policy and program problems.

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