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Mandated network formation

Federica Segato (Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy)
Jörg Raab (Department of Organization Studies, Tilburg School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 14 August 2018

Issue publication date: 19 February 2019

Abstract

Purpose

Policymakers often mandate and regulate the network formation to tackle complex issues of public interest. However, the imposed legal, procedural, and political constraints (i.e. mandated specifications) can affect the structuring and functioning of these networks and thus the sustainability and effectiveness of the collaboration over time. The purpose of this paper is to investigate how mandated specifications affect the formation of public networks.

Design/methodology/approach

Four networks of healthcare providers were selected and studied from the inception of the collaboration until the services’ activation, focusing specifically on how mandated specifications (i.e. mandated purpose, mechanisms for access to resources, structure, and timing) affected their processes of formation.

Findings

The cases show that mandated purpose facilitates goal alignment within the networks. The leeway granted to the actors for access and internal distribution of resources enhances the network flexibility, if appropriate monitoring against opportunism is applied. If structuring requirements are too stringent and the actors are forced to respect timing constraints that go against the organic evolution of internal relationships, the network capability to adapt and solve conflicts could be jeopardized.

Originality/value

Based on the findings, the authors formulate four propositions about the impact that mandated specifications have on the process of network formation, which policymakers should be aware of, when deciding to instigate a network.

Keywords

Citation

Segato, F. and Raab, J. (2019), "Mandated network formation", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 32 No. 2, pp. 191-206. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPSM-01-2018-0018

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited