A Network Approach to Policy Design

  • Florence MetzEmail author
Part of the Springer Water book series (SPWA)


This chapter explores the question: Can policy networks aid us in understanding the variance of policy design? Since networks of policy actors create their own governing structures, the goal of this study is to better understand which patterns of interactions facilitate or inhibit the realization of collective gains. Past research has repeatedly highlighted the relevance of the network approach in explaining policy outputs, but has thus far failed in establishing systematic hypotheses and empirical tests beyond simple attestations that ‘networks matter.’ To assess the relevance of the network approach, this study examines whether specific structural network properties are conducive to comprehensive problem solving in public policymaking. Hypotheses are formulated in order to evaluate which combination and level of network configurations, i.e., interconnectedness, belief cohesion, brokerage, entrepreneurship, and coalition structure, promote or inhibit networks’ ability to design comprehensive policies. Findings from this study provide first indications that the relational structures between policy actors represent an important element in achieving comprehensive policy designs and in promoting problem solving. The exploratory research results suggest that a combination of several structural network properties impacts networks’ ability to design comprehensive policies.


Explaining policy design Linking policy networks to policy design Networks matter Structural network properties Interconnectedness Belief cohesion Coalition structure Brokerage Entrepreneurship Comprehensive policy design 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Political ScienceUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland

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