Analyzing Social Policy from a Network Perspective
Governance models influence the approach that public service organizations take when implementing programs, policies, and practices. The networked model of governance supports the involvement of multiple actors who span organizational boundaries and roles to implement solutions to address complex social problems. This paper presents the utility of network analysis for the study of policy implementation from a network perspective. The paper describes networks within the context of social work policy implementation, basic network components, common structural variables, and sources of data for the study of policy implementation. A study of a statewide policy implementation is partially presented as an illustration of the use of network analysis in social policy research. The illustration uses primary and secondary data with network analysis techniques to identify and describe the patterns of interactions that comprise the structure of the implementation network. The illustration will present examples of the study findings to demonstrate the utility of network analysis in identifying central network actors and describing the density of the network according to different network variables. The paper concludes with a summary of the utility of network analysis in the study of policy implementation with recommendations for future research.
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