Governing by Network

Governing by Network: The New Shape of the Public Sector

Stephen Goldsmith
William D. Eggers
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Governing by Network
    Book Description:

    A fundamental, but mostly hidden, transformation is happening in the way public services are being delivered, and in the way local and national governments fulfill their policy goals. Government executives are redefining their core responsibilities away from managing workers and providing services directly to orchestrating networks of public, private, and nonprofit organizations to deliver the services that government once did itself. Authors Stephen Goldsmith and William D. Eggers call this new model "governing by network" and maintain that the new approach is a dramatically different type of endeavor that simply managing divisions of employees. Like any changes of such magnitude, it poses major challenges for those in charge. Faced by a web of relationships and partnerships that increasingly make up modern governance, public managers must grapple with skill-set issues (managing a contract to capture value); technology issues (incompatible information systems); communications issues (one partner in the network, for example, might possess more information than another); and cultural issues (how interplay among varied public, private, and nonprofit sector cultures can create unproductive dissonance). Governing by Network examines for the first time how managers on both sides of the aisle, public and private, are coping with the changes. Drawing from dozens of case studies, as well as established best practices, the authors tell us what works and what doesn't. Here is a clear roadmap for actually governing the networked state for elected officials, business executives, and the broader public.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-9752-4
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-x)
    Donald F. Kettl

    The job of running American government now faces a profound problem: much of what is written doesn’t match much of the way government actually works. Consider the tragic disintegration of the space shuttleColumbiain February 2003. As it reentered the atmosphere over the southwestern United States, repeated efforts by ground control to raise the ship got no response. Horrified observers watched it break apart into thousands of pieces, and soon television viewers around the world saw, again and again, the sad end of the shuttle and its crew.

    As investigators tried to piece together the clues, they discovered that...

  4. PART 1 The Rise of Governing by Network

    • ONE The New Shape of Government
      (pp. 3-24)

      On a crisp San Francisco morning in 1993, National Park Service superintendent Brian O’Neill got some good news and some bad news. The good news? The 76,000-acre Golden Gate National Recreational Area (GGNRA) that he oversaw had been given hundreds of acres of prime waterfront real estate just steps away from the Golden Gate Bridge. The bad news? The land, Crissy Field, was an environmental nightmare. For decades the Presidio military base had used it as an industrial storage yard, and by the time the military deeded it to the National Park Service, Crissy Field was loaded with upward of...

    • TWO Advantages of the Network Model
      (pp. 25-38)

      Enacted by a Republican Congress, signed into law by a Democratic president, and implemented by governors of both parties, the 1996 welfare reform bill was widely viewed as a great public policy success of the 1990s. And no state was more successful in moving from the old cash-based welfare system to the new work-based support program than Wisconsin, where welfare caseloads plummeted 89 percent between 1993 and 2000, and the poverty rate for single-parent families fell from 30 percent to 25 percent between 1997 and 1999.¹

      At the heart of Wisconsin Works (W-2), the state’s much heralded welfare reform program,...

    • THREE Challenges of the Network Model
      (pp. 39-52)

      In chapter two we demonstrated the benefits Milwaukee achieved from using a networked model. What we did not talk about were the myriad challenges state officials encountered in implementing and managing such an extensive and complex provider network. Milwaukee officials early on faced the allegation that contractors misused state funds. One nonprofit provider was accused of using state funds to throw a party; another of using taxpayer dollars to lobby for a contract in another state. These problems, combined with issues of poor performance, forced Wisconsin to play a more active management role than it had anticipated upon launching Wisconsin...

  5. PART 2 Managing by Network

    • FOUR Designing the Network
      (pp. 55-92)

      A network that delivers effective public services doesn’t just happen. Someone must first figure out how to fuse a collection of private and public organizations into a seamless service delivery system. The job of this network designer is to identify possible partners, bring all the relevant stakeholders to the table, analyze the current in-house operations, determine and communicate to all members the expectations of how the network will function, assemble and enmesh the pieces of the network, devise strategies to maintain the network, and, finally, activate it.¹ The designer faces the challenge of creating a model malleable enough to accommodate...

    • FIVE Ties That Bind
      (pp. 93-120)

      In the last chapter we presented a framework that, among other things, helps policymakers answer the question,Whoshould integrate the network? In this chapter we will try to answer thehowquestion: How do you tie together disparate organizations and discrete business processes into a functioning network? The network integrator must figure out how to establish dependable communication channels, coordinate activities between network participants, and build trusting relationships.

      Technology can help. It is the central nervous system of networks, connecting partners to each other and to the public sector. For example, web-based technologies allow a third-party provider to check...

    • SIX Networks and the Accountability Dilemma
      (pp. 121-156)

      It did not take long after the space shuttleColumbiaexploded in midflight for people to start pointing fingers in all directions. Since 1996 United Space Alliance, a Houston-based partnership between Boeing and Lockheed Martin, operated many space shuttle functions, including training and some safety responsibilities. With two of the world’s largest aviation and defense contractors, as well as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration itself, all playing important roles in the space shuttle program, no one seemed to be able to sort out responsibility for the disaster.

      Should NASA be held responsible because its senior managers failed to heed...

    • SEVEN Building the Capacity for Network Governance
      (pp. 157-178)

      A government manager’s job used to be relatively straightforward—you managed a program or service. Although finessing politics, negotiating with unions, and dealing with angry citizens could be trying and difficult, your work and your workforce was largely stable, and the larger your staff and budget, the more prestige you had. You got ahead by advising on policy issues or by excelling at managing government employees. Professionalism meant applying rules in a systematic, standardized, and highly structured manner.

      By comparison, managing in a networked government environment demands an entirely different set of competencies and capabilities. In addition to planning, budgeting,...

    • EIGHT The Road Ahead
      (pp. 179-188)

      The study of networks is not new. By now most readers have heard that by virtue of their own personal networks they are only six degrees of separation away from each of their fellow citizens. Most office workers have complained about their computer networks going down because someone else on the network managed to crash the entire system.

      In short, as more than one writer has noted, we now live in the “Age of the Network,” and there is no shortage of effort to decipher this development and explain what it means to our economy and society.¹ Go to

  6. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 189-192)
  7. Notes
    (pp. 193-204)
  8. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 205-210)
  9. Index
    (pp. 213-224)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 225-225)