Classification of Governance Features through Policy Networks Using Meta-synthesis Method

Document Type : Research Paper


1 PhD Candidate, Department of Industrial Management, Faculty of Management, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

2 Assistant Prof., Department of Industrial Management, Faculty of Management, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

3 Prof., Department of Information Technology Management, Faculty of Management and Economics, Tarbiat Modarres University, Tehran, Iran

4 Assistant Prof., Department of Public Administration, Faculty of Management, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran


Objective: From the perspective of governance, the concept of “policy network” focuses on inter-organizational relations, structures, processes, and interactions that policy-making process takes place through them.  In public policy literature, this approach to policy networks is based on studying governance through policy networks. This article, provides a comprehensive classification of the features of this type of governance using meta-synthesis method. The purpose of this paper is to identify and classify governance features through policy networks.
Methods: In this study, 468 related articles and researches conducted between 1970 and 2018 were selected from the Web of Science citation index. Finally, 55 articles were evaluated for the purpose of the study using the meta-synthesis method and selection criteria. This research is qualitative and is conducted within the interpretive paradigm with the aim of exploring the features of governance through policy networks. This is an applied research in terms of purpose. It is also a cross-sectional study in terms of data collection.
Results: The features of this kind of governance (Governance trough Policy Networks) can be divided into four general categories of "promoting coordination, coherence and integration", "strengthening communications, building trust and increasing participation", "policy learning improvement", and "facilitating policy implementation".
Conclusion: It is concluded that the researchers have conducted more studies regarding the two aspects of "promoting coordination, coherence and integration", "strengthening communications, building trust and increasing participation". Considering the importance of policy learning and policy implementation issues, future research can pay more attention to the two dimensions of "policy learning improvement", and "facilitating policy implementation". And finally, the findings of this study can be used to apply new approaches for improving governance in various policy areas.


Adelle, C., Jordan, A., & Benson, D. (2015). The role of policy networks in the coordination of the European Union’s economic and environmental interests: The case of EU mercury policy. Journal of European Integration, 37 (4), 471-489.
Berardo, R., & Lubell, M. (2016). Understanding what shapes a polycentric governance system. Public Administration Review, 76 (5), 738-751.
Bevir, M. (2008). Key Concepts in Governance. Sage Publishing.
Bevir, M., & Richards, D. (2009). Decentring policy networks: A theoretical agenda. Public administration, 87 (1), 3-14.
Borrás, S. (2008). The widening and deepening of innovation policy: what conditions provide for effective governance? Georgia Institute of Technology. Available in:
Börzel, T. (1997). What's so special about policy networks? An exploration of the concept and its usefulness in studying European governance. European Integration online Papers (EIoP), 1 (16).
Börzel, T. A. (1998). Organizing Babylon‐On the different conceptions of policy networks. Public administration, 76 (2), 253-273.
Christopoulos, D. C. (2008). The governance of networks: Heuristic or formal analysis? A reply to Rachel Parker. Political Studies, 56 (2), 475-481.
Conteh, C. (2009). Network governance of private sector development policy implementation in Singapore. Asian Journal of Political Science17(1), 71-88.
Cunningham, P., & Ramlogan, R. (2012). The effects of innovation network policies. Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, Manchester Business School, University of Manchester.
Dabbagh, S., Nafari, N. (2009). Explanation of Goodness Concept in Good Governance. Journal of Public Administration, 1(3), 3-18. (in Persian)
Damgaard, B. (2006). Do policy networks lead to network governing? Public Administration84(3), 673-691.
Daugbjerg, C., & Fawcett, P. (2017). Metagovernance, network structure, and legitimacy: Developing a heuristic for comparative governance analysis. Administration & Society, 49 (9), 1223-1245.
Dawkins, J., & Colebatch, H. K. (2006). Governing through institutionalised networks: the governance of Sydney Harbour. Land Use Policy, 23 (3), 333-343.
Deghati, A., Yaghoubi, N., Kamalian, A., Dehghani, M. (2019). Presenting a Phased Development Pattern of Network Governance Using a Meta-synthesis Approach. Journal of Public Administration, 11(2), 203-230. (in Persian)
Dellas, E. D., Streck, C., Wijen, F., Zoeteman, K., Pieters, J., & Van Seters, P. (2012). Governments and policy networks: Chances, risks, and a missing strategy. A Handbook  of Globalisation and Environmental Policy, 510-548.
Detomasi, D. A. (2007). The multinational corporation and global governance: Modelling global public policy networks. Journal of business ethics, 71 (3), 321-334.
Dörry, S., & Decoville, A. (2016). Governance and transportation policy networks in the cross-border metropolitan region of Luxembourg: A social network analysis. European Urban and Regional Studies, 23 (1), 69-85.
Eberhard, R., Margerum, R., Vella, K., Mayere, S., & Taylor, B. (2017). The practice of water policy governance networks: An international comparative case study analysis. Society & Natural Resources, 30 (4), 453-470.
Eberlein, B., & Newman, A. L. (2008). Escaping the international governance dilemma? Incorporated transgovernmental networks in the European Union. Governance, 21 (1), 25-52.
Elson, P. (2015). A comparative analysis of nonprofit policy network governance in Canada. Canadian journal of nonprofit and social economy research, 6 (2).
Exley, S. (2012). The politics of educational policy making under New Labour: an illustration of shifts in public service governance. Policy & Politics, 40 (2), 227-244.
Falkner, G. (2000). Policy networks in a multi‐level system: Convergence towards moderate diversity? West European Politics, 23 (4), 94-120.
Fawcett, P., & Daugbjerg, C. (2012). Explaining governance outcomes: Epistemology, network governance and policy network analysis. Political Studies Review, 10 (2), 195-207.
Fliervoet, J. M., Geerling, G. W., Mostert, E., & Smits, A. J. M. (2016). Analyzing collaborative governance through social network analysis: a case study of river management along the Waal River in The Netherlands. Environmental management, 57 (2), 355-367.
Galaz, V., Crona, B., Österblom, H., Olsson, P., & Folke, C. (2012). Polycentric systems and interacting planetary boundaries—Emerging governance of climate change–ocean acidification–marine biodiversity. Ecological Economics, 81, 21-32.
Gholipour, R., Danaeefard, H., Amiri, A. N., & Atarodi, M. R. (2015). Conceptualizing Policy Gap Phenomena in Cultural Policy Making Process. Majlis and Rahbord, 22 (81), 91-125. (in Persian)
Goldsmith, S., & Eggers, W. D. (2005). Governing by network: The new shape of the public sector. Brookings Institution Press.
Greenaway, J., Salter, B., & Hart, S. (2007). How policy networks can damage democratic health: A case study in the government of governance. Public administration85(3), 717-738.
Hajipour, B., Motameni, A., Tayebi Abolhasani, A. (2017). Meta-synthesis of success factors for commercialize of products with advanced technology. Innovation Management Journal, 5 (4), 19-54. (in Persian)
Halkier, H. (2014). Innovation and destination governance in Denmark: Tourism, policy networks and spatial development. European Planning Studies, 22 (8), 1659-1670.
Hawkins, C. V., Hu, Q., & Feiock, R. C. (2016). Self‐organizing governance of local economic development: Informal policy networks and regional institutions. Journal of Urban Affairs, 38 (5), 643-660.
Hileman, J., & Lubell, M. (2018). The network structure of multilevel water resources governance in Central America. Ecology and Society, 23 (2), 371-390.
John, P., & Cole, A. (2000). When do institutions, policy sectors, and cities matter? Comparing networks of local policy makers in Britain and France. Comparative political studies, 33 (2), 248-268.
Kapucu, N., Hu, Q., & Khosa, S. (2017). The state of network research in public administration. Administration & Society49(8), 1087-1120.
Keast, R., Mandell, M., & Brown, K. (2006). Mixing state, market and network governance modes: the role of government in" crowded" policy domains. International Journal of Organization Theory & Behavior, 9 (1), 27-50.
Klijn, E. H., Koppenjan, J., & Termeer, K. (1995). Managing networks in the public sector: a theoretical study of management strategies in policy networks. Public administration, 73 (3), 437-454.
Klijn, E. H., Steijn, B., & Edelenbos, J. (2010). The impact of network management on outcomes in governance networks. Public administration, 88 (4), 1063-1082.
Koppenjan, J., & Klijn, E. H. (2015). Governance networks in the public sector. Routledge.
Koppenjan, J., Kars, M., & Voort, H. V. D. (2009). Vertical politics in horizontal policy networks: Framework setting as coupling arrangement. Policy Studies Journal, 37 (4), 769-792.
Laffin, M. (2013). A new politics of governance or an old politics of central–local relations? Labour's reform of social housing tenancies in England. Public Administration, 91 (1), 195-210.
Le Galès, P. (2001). Urban governance and policy networks: on the urban political boundedness of policy networks. A French case study. Public administration, 79 (1), 167-184.
Lecy, J. D., Mergel, I. A., & Schmitz, H. P. (2014). Networks in public administration: current scholarship in review. Public Management Review, 16 (5), 643-665.
Lubell, M. (2015). Collaborative partnerships in complex institutional systems. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 12, 41-47.
Marinetto, M. (2003). Governing beyond the centre: A critique of the Anglo-governance school. Political studies, 51 (3), 592-608.
Marsh, D., & McCaffrie, B. (2015). One cheer for Jordan and Cairney: Taking the governance literature seriously. British Politics, 10 (4), 475-485.
Mayntz, R. (1993). Modernization and the logic of interorganizational networks. Knowledge and Policy6(1), 3-16.
McGinnis, M. D. (2011). Networks of adjacent action situations in polycentric governance. Policy Studies Journal, 39 (1), 51-78.
McGuire, M., & Agranoff, R. (2011). The limitations of public management networks. Public Administration, 89 (2), 265-284.
McGuirk, P. M. (2000). Power and policy networks in urban governance: local government and property-led regeneration in Dublin. Urban studies, 37 (4), 651-672.
McNutt, K., & Pal, L. A. (2011). Modernizing government: Mapping global public policy networks. Governance, 24 (3), 439-467.
Meier, K. J., & O'Toole Jr, L. J. (2003). Public management and educational performance: The impact of managerial networking. Public administration review63(6), 689-699.
Menahem, G., & Stein, R. (2013). High‐Capacity and Low‐Capacity Governance Networks in Welfare Services Delivery: A Typology and Empirical Examination of the Case of Israeli Municipalities. Public Administration, 91 (1), 211-231.
Mohseni Kiasari, M., Mohammadi, M., Jafarnejad, A., Garousi Mokhtarzadeh, N., Asadifard, R. (2017). Classification of Demand-based Innovation Policy Tools Using Meta-synthesis Approach. Innovation Management Journal, 6 (2), 109-138. (in Persian)
Newig, J., Günther, D., & Pahl-Wostl, C. (2010). Synapses in the network: learning in governance networks in the context of environmental management. Ecology and Society, 15 (4).
Noblit, G. W., & Hare, R. D. (1988). Meta-ethnography: Synthesizing qualitative studies (Vol. 11). Sage.
Raab, J. (2002). Where do policy networks come from? Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 12 (4), 581-622.
Raab, J. (2019). Powell (1990): Neither Market nor Hierarchy: Network Forms of Organization. In Schlüsselwerke der Netzwerkforschung (pp. 461-463). Springer VS, Wiesbaden.
Rhodes, R. A. (1997). Understanding governance: Policy networks, governance, reflexivity and accountability. Open University press.
Rhodes, R. A. W. (1996). The new governance: governing without government. Political studies, 44 (4), 652-667.
Rickne, A., Læstadius, S., & Etzkowitz, H. (Eds.). (2012). Innovation governance in an open economy: Shaping regional nodes in a globalized world. Routledge.
Robinson, S. E. (2006). A decade of treating networks seriously. Policy Studies Journal, 34 (4), 589-598.
Salarzehi, H., Ebrahimpour, H. (2012). Paradigms of Public Administration: From Traditional Public Administration to Good Governance. Journal of Public Administration, 4(9), 43-62. (in Persian)
Salazar, M., & Holbrook, A. (2007). Canadian science, technology and innovation policy: the product of regional networking? Regional Studies, 41 (8), 1129-1141.
Salimi, J., Maknoon, R. (2018). Qualitative Meta-analysis of Scientific Researches Concerning the Issue of Governance in Iran. Journal of Public Administration, 10(1), 1-30.
(in Persian)
Sandelowski, M., & Barroso, J. (2006). Handbook for synthesizing qualitative research. Springer Publishing Company.
Sandström, A., Crona, B., & Bodin, Ö. (2014). Legitimacy in co‐management: The impact of preexisting structures, social networks and governance strategies. Environmental Policy and Governance, 24 (1), 60-76.
Scott, M. (2015). Re-theorizing social network analysis and environmental governance: Insights from human geography. Progress in Human Geography, 39 (4), 449-463.
Scott, T. A., & Thomas, C. W. (2017). Winners and losers in the ecology of games: Network position, connectivity, and the benefits of collaborative governance regimes. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 27 (4), 647-660.
Sohn, C., & Giffinger, R. (2015). A policy network approach to cross-border metropolitan governance: The cases of Vienna and Bratislava. European Planning Studies, 23 (6), 1187-1208.
Sohrabi, B., Khalili Jafaraabd, A., & Roodi, A. (2018). Discover the Properties of Emerging Research Areas Using Meta-Synthesis Method. Journal of Science & Technology Policy, 9 (4), 15-30. (in Persian)
Sørensen, E., & Torfing, J. (Eds.). (2016). Theories of democratic network governance. Springer.
Steets, J. (2009). Global governance as public policy networks and partnerships. In Palgrave Advances in Global Governance (pp. 123-138). Palgrave Macmillan, London.
Stephenson, P. (2013). Twenty years of multi-level governance: ‘Where does it come from? What is it? Where is it going? Journal of European public policy, 20 (6), 817-837.
Taslimi, M., Alipour, M. (2019). Talent Research Approaches in I. R. Iran's Talent Policies. Journal of Public Administration, 11(1), 123-150. (in Persian)
Thorne, S., Jensen, L., Kearney, M. H., Noblit, G., & Sandelowski, M. (2004). Qualitative metasynthesis: reflections on methodological orientation and ideological agenda. Qualitative health research, 14(10), 1342-1365.
Torfing, J., & Ansell, C. (2017). Strengthening political leadership and policy innovation through the expansion of collaborative forms of governance. Public Management Review, 19 (1), 37-54.
Tübke, A., Ducatel, K., Gavigan, J., Moncada-Paterno-Castello, P. I. E. T. R. O., SMITS, R., ZWECK, A., ... & HUT, A. S. (2001). Strategic policy intelligence: Current trends, the state of play and perspectives. IPTS, Seville.
Ulibarri, N., & Scott, T. A. (2016). Linking network structure to collaborative governance. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 27 (1), 163-181.
Vignola, R., McDaniels, T. L., & Scholz, R. W. (2013). Governance structures for ecosystem-based adaptation: Using policy-network analysis to identify key organizations for bridging information across scales and policy areas. Environmental science & policy, 31, 71-84.
Voets, J., Van Dooren, W., & De Rynck, F. (2008). A framework for assessing the performance of policy networks. Public management review, 10 (6), 773-790.
Walsh, D., & Downe, S. (2005). Meta‐synthesis method for qualitative research: a literature review. Journal of advanced nursing, 50 (2), 204-211.
Warleigh, A. (2006). Conceptual combinations: multilevel governance and policy networks. In Palgrave Advances in European Union Studies (pp. 77-95). Palgrave Macmillan, London.
Yang, K. (2007). Responsiveness in network governance: Revisiting a fundamental concept: Symposium introduction. Public performance & management review, 31 (2), 131-143.
Yi, H. (2018). Network Structure and Governance Performance: What Makes a Difference? Public Administration Review, 78 (2), 195-205.