The Relationship between Governance Networks and Social Networks: Progress, Problems and Prospects

Gaby Ramia*, Roger Patulny, Greg Marston, Kyla Cassells

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


A governance networks literature that uses social network analysis has emerged, but research tends to be more technical than conceptual. This restricts its accessibility and usefulness for non-quantitative scholars and practitioners alike. Furthermore, the literature has not adequately appreciated the importance of informal networking for the effective operation of governance networks. This can hinder inter-disciplinary analysis. Through a critical review, this article identifies four areas of challenge for the governance networks literature and offers four corresponding, complementary sets of concepts from the social network analysis field: (a) the difference between policy networks and governance networks, (b) the role and status of people in governance networks, (c) the ‘dark side’ of networks and the role of power differentials within them and (d) network evaluation and the question of ‘what works’ in network management. The article argues that a less technical, more accessible account of social network analysis offers an additional lens through which to view governance networks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331-341
Number of pages11
JournalPolitical Studies Review
Issue number4
Early online date9 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations

User-Defined Keywords

  • governance networks
  • policy networks
  • public management networks
  • social network
  • social networks analysis


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