Handbook of American Public Administration
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Handbook of American Public Administration

Edited by Edmund C. Stazyk and H. G. Frederickson

The Handbook of American Public Administration draws on the expertise of established and emerging scholars to provide national and international audiences a comprehensive review of the current state and future direction of theory and practice in US public administration. The authors provide a cross-disciplinary, holistic review of the field and pave an agenda for future research.
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Chapter 21: Nodes and links as actors and actions in public administration networks

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.

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