2024 journal article

Institutional Approaches for Studying System-Oriented Networks


Source: ORCID
Added: May 8, 2024

Institutional, policy, and management scholars and practitioners are increasingly interested in leveraging network perspectives, methods, and data to understand complex social phenomena, including the various stages of the policy process, community mobilization, and coupled natural and human systems. Viewing these phenomena through the lens of system-oriented networks can be valuable for understanding and intervening within complex policy arenas. However, currently, there is no clear consensus on who and what constitutes a relevant actor in a system-oriented network. Furthermore, numerous conceptual and methodological traditions for conceptualizing, measuring, and analyzing system-oriented networks have arisen, and each is linked to different disciplinary traditions. In this paper, we showcase six approaches from the public policy and public management literature for conceptualizing and analyzing system-oriented networks. We offer a conceptual framework for characterizing different approaches which considers differences in their focal system of interest, analytical focus, theoretical orientation, and approach for determining network boundaries. We review these elements with an eye toward helping scholars and practitioners interested in system-oriented networks to make informed decisions about the array of available approaches.