Interrogating networks: towards an agnostic perspective on governance research

Article English OPEN
Davies, J. S. ; Spicer, A. (2015)
  • Publisher: PION LTD
  • Journal: (vol: 33, pp: 223-238)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1068/c11292
  • Subject: critique | networks | HD | governance

Networks have rapidly become the dominant trope in governance theory and practice. While scholarship highlights important benefits, there has been insufficient systematic interrogation of the potential pathologies in network governance. This paper addresses the lacuna. We begin by discussing different kinds of network analysis and distinguishing the specific claims of network governance theory. We then pull together the scattered critically oriented literatures on the topic, identifying major problems with network modes of governance: hypocrisy, distrust, marketization, subjugation, antiproceduralism, fragmentation, and ‘netsploitation’. We finally argue for a more agnostic approach to governance research, capable of taking account of these pathologies and thereby putting networks in their place. This means avoiding the fetishization of particular modes of governance and giving more careful attention to the settings in which they each can be useful. Keywords: networks, hierarchy, market, governance, orthodoxy, critique
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