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Policy Networks as Collective Action

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Type: Working Paper
Author: Carlsson, Lars
Date: 1996
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/4366
Sector: Theory
Subject(s): collective action
policy analysis
Abstract: "One important contribution to the policy sciences, and inter organizational research in particular, has been the introduction of the so called policy network approach. Despite the fact that the network approach has produced a multitude of concepts, it still lacks a theoretical scaffold. As a consequence, there is a tendency to regard, for example, policy communities, iron triangles, or implementation structures, and other network constructs as deviations from the real processes of policy making, i.e. those supposedly triggered by formal political decisions. This reflects a failure in realizing the difference between social and political order. One way out of this dilemma is to regard different empirical appearances of network concepts as expressions of collective action. Consequently, these types of collective action must be explained with reference to adequate theory. Referring to something called 'network theory' is hardly a fruitful way. But, accepting that units other than formal organizations can be understood as variants of collective action increases our ability to understand the ongoing processes of the creation of social and political order in society. This also advances our ability to deal with an extremely important question: How can contemporary 'multi-actor-societies' be governed?"

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