The Missing Link?
Edited by Christopher Pollitt
In this final link I will review Part III, Chapters 15 to 21 (well, I will not comment on Chapter 21 because to review my own chapter seems unduly narcissistic, as well as highly likely to be biased). As in previous links, I will seek to connect the ideas in individual chapters with those in other chapters, and with the broader literatures of public policy and administration. Erik-Hans Klijn and his colleagues have tried to do some of what Isabella Proeller was asking for in her chapter on methods. They have defined and operationalized context (among other variables) and then conducted statistical tests to establish how much influence context has on performance. They have done this internationally, comparing three countries. The conclusion they arrive at is that network performance has been more influenced by management strategies (forms of agency, in our earlier discussions) than by the contextual characteristics of the networks in question. This finding held for all three countries compared – the Netherlands, Spain and Taiwan. This is, then, a particularly valuable element in the book because it offers a full working example of what might be called ‘normal science’ – hypotheses, data collection based on pre-defined variables, statistical testing, findings. At the same time, however, the chapter illustrates some of the great difficulties of doing this kind of work really well.
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