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PPGPortal > Home > Concept Dictionary > N, O > Network Governance

Network Governance  

An approach to governance that features focuses on networks and partnerships among governmental and nongovernmental players rather than on the government or the community per se..

(Phillips, 2006, p. 20)


In network governance, sometimes called “mutualist” or “consociational” governance, the focus is on networks and partnerships among governmental and nongovernmental players rather than on the government or the community per se. The underlying principle is that “institutions should be controlled by their ‘stakeholders,’ organized on the basis of mutual benefit for all (which would confer both legitimacy and authority on the institutions concerned), and integrated within a regime of participatory multi-stakeholder governance” (Somerville, 2005, p. 129). In this model, the players are more likely to be organizations than citizens, but the defining features are the creation and maintenance of networks, whether orchestrated mainly by governments or by communities. Carolyn Tuohy, (2006), “Partnering for Public Purpose –New Modes of Accountability for New Modes of Governance”, a paper prepared for the Symposium on Partnering for Public Purpose, School of Public Policy and Governance, University of Toronto, in The Report of the Independent Blue Ribbon Panel on Grant and Contribution Programs, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. A networked governance model is where more than one agency /organization /government department is responsible for policy implementation. This allows for diffuse responsibility and unclear mechanisms of communication and accountability (Tuohy 2006 pg. 82). There is an increased reliance on non-governmental agencies to deliver government services and to participate in policy design and implementation. This has emerged in part due to the complexity of today’s “wicked” policy problems and the difficulty for government departments to respond adequately on their own. Additionally, there is a greater recognition of important skills and expertise outside of government and the importance of engaging citizens and stakeholders in government initiatives in order to achieve effective results. Clearly defining roles and responsibilities and building trust-based relationships is at the core of successful networked models (Tuohy 2006, pg. 86).

Phillips, S. 2006. “The Intersection of Governance and Citizenship in Canada: Not Quite the Third Way”. IRPP Policy Matters, 7 (4), Institute for Research on Public Policy.Retrieved on June 15, 2008



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