MANAGING NETWORKS IN THE PUBLIC SECTOR: A THEORETICAL STUDY OF MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES IN POLICY NETWORKS

DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9299.1995.tb00837.x
Date01 September 1995
Published date01 September 1995
COMPARATIVE AND INTERNATIONAL
ADMINISTRATION
MANAGING NETWORKS
IN
THE PUBLIC SECTOR:
A THEORETICAL STUDY
OF
MANAGEMENT
STRATEGIES
IN
POLICY NETWORKS
ERIK-HANS KLIJN,
JOOI'
KOPPENJAN
AND
KATRIEN TERMEER
Public policy usually develops in complex networks of public, quasi-public and private
organizations.
It
is
now generally accepted that these networks set
limits
to the
governance capability of the administration. A good deal
less
is
known
about the
opportunities which policy networks offer for tackling social and administrative
problems.
This
article deals with the way network management enables government
organizations to benefit from networks. Building on the theoretical concepts
of
'networks' and 'games', two forms
of
network management are identified: game
management and network structuring. Four key aspects can be identified for both of
these management fonns: actors and their relations, resources, rules and perceptions. At
thesame time, criteria for the assessment and improvement of network management are
examined. The article concludes with a consideration of the
limits
of
network
management.
I
INTRODUCTION
The importance to government organizations of policy networks for the
management of policy processes
is
clearly illustrated by the failure
of
the Dutch
government to develop and introduce
a
new passport in the eighties. In
1981,
the
Dutch Parliament ratified the
EC
resolution in which it committed itself to the
introduction of a new passport according to
EC
guidelines by
1
January
1985.
Tenders were invited from private companies.
Soon,
the
Ministries
of Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs clashed
with
the
result that no decision was taken regarding which company should be granted
the assignment of developing the new passport system. The
Ministry
of Home
Erik-Hans
Klijn
and Joop Koppenjan are
Lecturers
in the Department
of
Public Administration at the
Erasmus University, Rotterdam. Katrien Termeer
is
a Ledurer
in
the Faculty of
System
Engineering,
Policy
Analysis, and F'ublic Management at the
Technical
University,
Delft.
Public Administration
Vol73
Autumn 1995
(437-454)
0
Blackwell Publishers Ltd. 1995, 108 Cowley Road, Oxford,
OX4
~JF,
UK
and 238 Main
Street,
Cambridge,
MA
02142, USA.
438
ERIK-HANS
KLIJN,
JOOP KOPPENJAN
AND
KATRIEN
TERMEER
Affairs
(MHA)
represented the interests of local governments and of the state
printing office (SDUB), the state-owned printers of the present passport. The
MHA
therefore wanted a decentralized passport system which would be developed by
the state printing office. They felt the municipalities should be involved in the
production and distribution of the new passport. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(MFA),
which was responsible for the introduction of the new passport, wanted a
centralized system which would guarantee optimal protection against fraud.
This
system differed to such an extent from the old one that the
MFA
did not
want the existing network of actors to develop it. It was to be developed by the
’EP-consoflium’, which consisted of two giants, Kodak and Philips, and one
dwarf, Elba, a small printer of hgh quality stationery.
In 1985, the Prime Minister intervened in order to break the deadlock. He
suggested a compromise. The passport would be distributed by the munici-
palities and the assignment would be a joint venture involving
KEP
and the SDUB.
During
the next few months however,
KEP
and
SDUB
failed to reach an
agreement. In June 1986, the
MFA
signed a contract with
KEP:
the
MHA
had lost
the bureau-political battle.
The
KEP
contract involved the creation of a completely new network.
A
special
plant was to be set up whose exclusive task would be the development of a
passport system according to the
MFA
guidelines.
In
January 1988, the first new
passport was to be distributed, but before that time problems arose. Within a few
months, Kodak resigned from the project. Because the role of Philips was rather
marginal, Elba became the main contract partner of
MFA.
In the autumn of 1987,
the
MA
made every effort to acquire a specimen
of
the new passport in order to
have awputable examining body assess the extent to which it was proof against
fraud. However, since the ministry did not obtain a specimen in time, the
introduction of the new passport had to be postponed. In the meantime,
Parliament had become suspicious and decided to conduct an inquiry, which
resulted in the resignation of two of the politicians responsible.
In
December
1988, the contract with
KEP
was cancelled. Banks consequently refused to extend
further credit,
KEp
went bankrupt. The responsibility for the development of a
new passport was transferred to the
MHA,
which started a new passport project
in 1990.
Although several factors jointly responsible for the passport d6bScle have been
suggested, one appears to be particularly important: the way the
MFA
managed
the process. The
MFA
was wholly committed to its own design for the new
passport system.
Actors
who had different ideas were excluded from the process.
Participation was restricted to those of like mind. By creating its own network,
the
WA
expected to be able to gain absolute power over the passport
development process. By doing
so,
however, it rendered itself completely
dependent upon one other partner. When
this
partner failed to comply with the
contract, the project was doomed.
The example of the passport d6bScle illustrates that it
is
impossible, or at least
precarious, to ignore the existence of networks. The network context of
policy
projects renders top-down management inadequate. Policy networks require a
0
Blackwell
Publishers
Ltd.
1995

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