P23 SIG Complexity & Network Governance panel

Corresponding Chair

Prof Joris Voets, Department of Public Governance and Management, University of Ghent. Email: joris.voets@ugent.be

Review group chair

Dr Mary-Lee Rhodes Trinity Business School, Trinity College Dublin.Email: rhodesml@tcd.ie


  • Dr Elizabeth Eppel, School of Government, Victoria University of Wellington 
  • Prof Robyn Keast, School of Business and Tourism, Southern Cross University 
  • Prof Erik-Hans Klijn, Department of Public Administration and Sociology, Erasmus School of Social and Behavioral Sciences


The SIG C&NG aims to connect scholars and practitioners studying complexity and network governance worldwide. At the annual IRSPM-conference we organize panel sessions dealing with a range of theoretical, empirical, methodological, and practice-related topics, and encourage members to organise ‘current issues’ sessions within the broader panel call.  This year’s current issue session is on “populist movements and their impacts on governance”.

For the 2023 C&NG panel, we welcome papers that:

  • Introduce, discuss, develop, and apply established and new theoretical perspectives in studying complexity and network governance.
  • Raise questions, offer new insights, and encourage debate as to which established perspectives prove valuable to tackle questions about how network governance can be organized and managed, (the lack of) performance(s) of collaborative arrangements, to understand and develop complex adaptive systems, etc.
  • Identify and discuss methodological challenges and new ideas on how to develop our knowledge on C&NG: e.g., are there new QCA-approaches being used? Has the behavioural and experimental trend in PA also extended into C&NG-research? To what extent are methods like agent-based modelling being developed further and applied?
  • Bring new and interesting empirical studies to the table, especially studies that showcase the extent and reach of novel empirical work that substantiates or even questions what we think we know about C&NG?
  • Inspire and reflect on knowledge in action, what practitioners ‘do’ with academic C&NG-insights in the real world, identify the conditions for making such knowledge transfer work, how practitioners can become more active co-producers of C&NG?

Special call for a Current Issues session within the C&NG panel

Populist Movements and Their Impacts on Governance: Charting the Future of Democratic Accountability for Public Management Research”


Chris Koliba, University of Vermont (Christopher.Koliba@uvm.edu) (Corresponding Session Chair)

Piotr Modzelewski, University of Warsaw 

Throughout human history social and political movements have contributed to the complexity of governing and public management.  After a period of post-World War II stability, western democracies across the globe are experiencing protracted and impactful political movements that are undermining the stability of liberal democracies. The potential shifts in democratic and administrative accountability regimes resulting from the rise in “illiberal populism” being experienced in many western democracies around the world (Kazin, 2017; Mounk, 2018; Stoker, 2019) is having significant implications for public administrative leaders and researchers.  A better understanding of how these movements, and the populist leaders that they empower, are impacting public administration is needed, raising critical questions concerning the role of citizen participation, administrative discretion, technocrats and professional expertise, and the legitimacy of elected officials to carry out the will and address the needs of their jurisdictions.

This current issues session of the C&NG SIG seeks papers that consider any of the following questions:

  • What assumptions regarding the effective operation of public management and network governance are being questioned/undermined as a result of populist movements?
  • How are career public servants responding to populist agendas? 
  • How can network science and/or complexity theory be employed to better understand the role of social movements or individual illiberal populist leaders in shaping public policy design, implementation and evaluation?
  • In what ways can network science, complexity and collaboration theories be useful to support forums for objective discussion and facilitate rational decision-making?
  • To what extent are populist movement increasing in the asymmetry of information sharing and bounded rationality in the public sphere?
  • How are populist movements and populist leaders reframing public service values and democratic accountabilities?

Format for Abstracts

Authors should follow the standard instructions provided by the IRSPM Conference guidelines for submitting their abstracts through the ExOrdo system.

How the panel will operate

Authors will present accepted papers in thematic panel sessions, and discussants will be appointed to ensure relevant feedback. Panel session chairs will also formulate more overarching insights and challenges to broader discussions around these main categories and themes. We will actively engage with the editors of the journal ‘COMPLEXITY, GOVERNANCE & NETWORKS’ to explore opportunities for a special issue from this panel and also to build robust connections with the ASPA Section on Complexity and Network Studies to strengthen the broader collaboration between it and our SIG.

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