P36 SIG Complexity and Network Governance

Corresponding & Review Group Chair

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


Dr Elizabeth Eppel, School of Government, Victoria University of Wellington

Prof Robyn Keast, Faculty of Business, Law & Arts, Southern Cross University 

Prof Erik-Hans Klijn, Department of Public Administration and Sociology, Erasmus School of Social and Behavioral Sciences 

Prof Chris Koliba, School of Public Affairs & Administration, University of Kansas 

Dr Mary-Lee Rhodes, Trinity Business School, Trinity College Dublin 


For the 2024 conference, we welcome three types of papers in our panel.

  1. Papers that help to expand the general body of knowledge on complexity and network governance (C&NG):
  • Theory Development: Introduce, discuss, develop, and apply established and new theoretical perspectives in studying complexity and network governance.
  • Critical Assessment: 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.
  • Limitations and Potentials of the Field: Offer critical perspectives in the potential and limitations of current network and complexity approaches to public management, including assessments of the limitations posed by take limitations, uses of AI and machine learning applications, and limited agreement across the fields regarding generalizability.
  • Methodological Advances and Challenges: Identify and discuss methodological challenges and new ideas on developing our knowledge on C&NG: e.g., are 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?
  • New Discoveries: 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?
  • Practical Applications: 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, and how practitioners can become more active co-producers of C&NG?
  1. Papers that specifically fit the theme of the conference Hybrid Futures for Public Governance and Management‘, taking a complexity and network governance perspective:
  • Papers addressing the consequences for network governance processes of hybridity, the question of whether the hybrid character of networks or public service systems influence their performance, the application of complexity theory to analyze and explain hybrid public management systems, the transition over time of these hybrid forms - and especially insights on how their various forms come to be, limitations etc.  Papers need to clearly connect hybridity to complexity and network governance. If not, please apply directly to other panels, like the Special Interest Group ‘Governing & managing hybridity’.
  1. Papers for a special panel session (in collaboration with the SIG Public and Political Leadership) that address the specific topic of Challenges of Leading Complex, Networked Systems During Turbulent Times
  • The rise of populist social movements and democratic backsliding, the advancement of Artificial Intelligence and its impacts on the public sector, and the existential threats posed by climate change are disruptive to public management practices across the globe.  To what extend have our leadership research, empirical findings, as well as frameworks and perspectives evolved to accommodate these challenges?  These threats are both fuelled by networks and complexity with potential approaches developed through the collective actions of public leaders operating through democratically anchored networks and complex governance.  What can public leadership practices and frameworks tell us about the development, design, and operations of effective networks during these rapidly evolving times?  What can network research findings, frameworks, and theories as well as analysis tell us about effective public leadership during times of challenges to the values of representative government, acceptance of professionalism in public service in times of transition and change?

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 (each paper presenter will be responsible for reviewing at least one other paper in her/his session). 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 for publication in 2025 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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