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Gwen Arnold and Luke M. Shimek

Networks have become the basis of entire courses in public affairs. However, public administration has tended to focus on discrete network topics rather than building a holistic network paradigm. We argue that public administration can use the theoretical building blocks of network science, nodes and links, to gain conceptual clarity, allow synthesis of past and present research, and answer outstanding questions about the role of networks in public administration. We define these building blocks, discuss how they interact, and propose examples of how different types of nodes and links affect the structure and behaviors of networks. We introduce potential public administration applications of network structural elements and explore synergies at the interface of public administration and the larger field of network science. Network science concepts can help knit together currently disparate treatments of networks in public administration scholarship. We illustrate these arguments using cases from the field of environmental policy.