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Fragmentation Of The State As An Organizational Unit

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Following the rise of new public management (NPM) in the 1980s, reforms to public service led to a fragmentation of the state as an organizational unit, both internally and externally, due to increased cooperation between public and private actors in administrative processes. As a result, many more actors are involved in producing public policy, and there are many policy arenas where neither government nor markets can fully address the problems society faces. As an organizational structure, Klijn and Koppenjan (1999) describe the evolution of the network approach as a development along three separate lines formed within organizational science, political science, and policy science. Specific to the field of public administration, an important development over the past several decades has been the opening of the policy process to multiple interests, organizations, and agencies.

This new public management (NPM) reforms had also called for improved efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability. Consequently, the fast growth of interest in networks scholars has been accompanied by a “corresponding increase in confusions, criticisms, and controversies”. The following section discusses two general approaches to networks in public administration under this context. One dominant network approach has focused on what managerial and structural conditions matter for different policy and political outcomes. Social network analysis (SNA) is commonly used to examine collaborative relationships at the systems level and observe how they change over time.

It is useful in studying different social phenomena because the social network is the primary unit of analysis for evaluation. According to Wasserman and Faust (1994), a social network refers to “the set of actors and the ties among them. The network analyst would seek to model the relationships to depict the structure of the group. One could then study the impact of this structure on the functioning of the group and/or the influence of the structure on individuals within the group ”. These ties can be in the form of dyads, triads, or larger systems. Importantly, the use of relational concepts is a fundamental component of social network theories and these principles separate social network analysis from other network research approaches.

Social network research has been guided by a shared glossary of the main concepts regarding the description of network ties, individuals, and network structure  for a typology of the network paradigm in the field of organizational management and Kilduff & Brass, 2010 for a summary of the four main ideas driving SNA research). SNA is different from other network methods used to understand public collaborative efforts because it aims to identify relationships and attributes of members, key actors, and groups that comprise a social network and relies on structural explanations of network outcomes. In the field of public administration, social network approaches have influenced the management and organizational approach to networks is a useful analytical tool for understanding non-linear, non-bureaucratic ties within public networks.

This stream of scholarship focuses on both mangers and structures of and organizational collaborative networks, which are typically collections of government agencies, nonprofits, and private firms that work together to provide a service when a single public agency is unable or unwilling. These are often characterized as governing arrangement where public agencies directly engage non-state stakeholders. These networks carry out activities on behalf of the government to the public. Milward and Provan (2000) recognize that networks of complicated relationships to deliver public services are replacing command and control mechanisms associated with bureaucracy. They propose a principal-agency model for effective network governance, especially when governments are fragmented and authority is diffused.

Furthermore, Provan and Lamarie (2012) suggest the most fundamental decision that must be made by government managers and potential network members is “under what circumstances a network form is appropriate at all, as opposed to more traditional forms” due to many transaction costs and significant challenges to working in a network context. Subsequently, network management focuses more on mediating and coordinating interorganizational policymaking and managers of and within a public network play a key role in ensuring accountability, legitimacy and governance structure to achieve their goal.

Health and human services– privatization, contracting out, introduction of quiz-market in the public sector Observing that most literature on organizational networks does not address the concept of governance, Provan and Kenis (2008) examine the governance of organizational networks with the prospect that understanding the functioning of networks will lead to a better understanding of why they produce certain outcomes, regardless of the antecedents of network formation (e.g., bottom-up processes, strategic decisions by government officials). In previous research, the authors addressed that the common assumption that networks, as collaborative arrangement of autonomous organizations, the study of governance, which applies hierarchy and control, is not suitable, they expand this reasoning to recognizing that networks are oriented toward a collective goal and evolve through conscious efforts to build coordination.

Networks can be governed through repeated communications, decisions, and negotiations between network members. Understanding governance through social mechanisms, though voluntary-based social norms and peer control, is critical to increasing network effectiveness. They propose three distinct ideal types of governance – shared governance, lead organization, network administrative organization – with four variables related to network effectiveness that are unique to each form – number of participants, trust density, goal consensus, and network-level competencies. In addition to these dimensions predicting efficiency based on form, there are three common tensions with inclusiveness, legitimacy, and flexibility that have different responses based on ideal form.

Given these characteristics of ideal forms, Kenis and Provan suggest a network life-cycle beginning with the most flexible shared governance, passing through a more brokered form as the lead organization-governed network, and ending up with network administrative organization. It has been contended that the explanatory value of the policy network concept is low and that too much effort is given to scrutinizing network structures rather than focusing on the qualities of involved actors. With the “blurring” of public, private, and nonprofit sectors, the idea of the network problematizes the traditional principal-agent relationship having consequences, both negative and positive, for democracy and accountability and the autonomy of government to make decisions.

Measurements of performance in these policy and service delivery networks rely on new public management discourse where government was reformed in the name of better performance. However, according to Lynn, Heinrich, and Hill (2001), the logic of governance is not a paradigm of governance that depicts how governance works, rather “it is a schematic or heuristic framework that suggests how the elements of governance – the values and interests of citizens, legislative enactments and oversight, executive and organizational structures and roles, and performance assessment – might be linked through a dynamic and interactive process”.

They propose a theory-based, empirical research approach that addresses the complexity of governing relations and argue that to address newer administrative arrangements, a new logic of governance based on political economy is needed. Governance “concerns relationships between authoritative decisions and government performance” which includes both “formal and informal authority and cannot be wholly directive or instrumental” .

Thus, the logic of governance from the perspective of Lynn, Heinrich, and Hill should be framed or bounded hierarchically, though, it is seen as a dynamic and interactive process. Several early scholars in the field of governance networks, such as Rhodes (1996) and Pierre and Peters (2000), associate governance networks with new systems for public policy deliberation and view the policymaking process as extending beyond the traditional hierarchical model of government to include networks of organizations and interests.

In the public administration literature, governance generally refers to the call for public sector reform by means of an increasing use of privatization, public enterprise, contracting out, quasi-markets, contract steering, partnerships, user boards. This is typically characterized as a transition from government to governance and the phrase ‘governing without government’ captures the basic idea. New public management reforms in Western liberal governments in the 1980s and 1990s have resulted in a reconfiguring of the organizational systems through which public interests are being served.

In this view, government is reduced through managerial reform and the adoption of business management techniques under the heading of new public management: governance refers to self-organizing networks. These change process have stimulated the current focus on the concept of network governance. Kjaer (2004) explains that governance was introduced into public administration and public policy debates as a consequence of the wave of NPM reforms in which the role of government was reduced to one of many players involved in policy development. According to Kjaer, this new governance environment requires governments to strengthen their coordinating role and capacity to manage networks in order to perform effectively.

Additionally, Pierre (2000) notes that industrialized democracies have faced an erosion of the traditional bases of political power due to deregulation of financial markets, subnational governments are bypassing state institutions and interests. These scholars acknowledge that with the ascendance of neo-liberal regimes in advanced democracies, the state was not seen as the solution to but rather a source of several problems in society, particularly that of economic performance. Lastly, Kettl (2005) has identified six common ideas behind the NPM revolution: the search for greater productivity; more public reliance on private markets; a stronger orientation toward service; more decentralization from national to subnational governments; increased capacity to devise and track public policy; and tactics to enhance accountability for results.

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