The Frontiers of Networked Governance

By Gabriel A. Huppé, Heather Creech, Doris Knoblauch on March 11, 2012

In this research paper, the authors describe networked governance as a policy-making process that integrates various capacities distributed widely across diverse governance actors that are located both inside and outside of governments (or centralized governance agencies).

Networked governance approaches make use of governance networks that may self-organize within bounds towards certain policy-making functions. For policy problems harbouring a given level of complexity, the higher the level of social capital within an identified governance network, the more autonomy and self-organization may be conducive to achieving problem solving functions, and thus governance goals.The authors explain the efficacy of networked governance as a factor of both problem complexity (network heterogeneity) and social capital. Social capital is the fabric of trust, shared values and understanding that allows diverse participants to work together towards common goals. Problems of higher complexity requiring networks of greater heterogeneity oblige a certain level of social capital to enable effective collaborative processes. The paper suggests that a combination of stakeholder analysis and social network analysis can be useful in assessing the network structures and practices that may maintain and enhance social capital, and thus improve the effectiveness of networked governance processes. They also discuss creating shared value, as a process that occurs when diverse actors come together under collaborative visioning strategies. Collaborative visioning enhances common understanding, and thus may increase social capital, and allow more complex problems to be addressed in the future and otherwise improve the effectiveness of a networked governance approach. The process of creating shared value is described as one that is parallel and intertwined with collaborative visioning; it fosters strategic alignment between network actors and facilitates the achievement of collectively desirable outcomes and common goals of sustainable development.

Report details

IISD, 2012