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Critical crossroads to explain network change: evidence from a goal-directed network

Deborah Agostino (Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering, Polytechnic University of Milan, Milan, Italy)
Michela Arnaboldi (Polytechnic University of Milan, Milan, Italy)
Martina Dal Molin (University Carlo Cattaneo, Castellanza, Italy)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 10 April 2017




Public networks studies have widely diffused in recent years, but scant attention has been devoted to network change. By endorsing the notion of critical crossroads to describe a crucial turning point for the network survival, the purpose of this paper is to investigate how and why a goal-directed network changes, considering both the benefits and the constraints of the change.


This study adopts a longitudinal case study based upon an interventionist research approach (Jönsson and Lukka, 2006), with the researchers being immersed in the network life of a group of Italian public universities over a period of 17 years.


This paper proposes an empirical derived framework about network evolution that identifies two different types of crossroads (i.e. resource-driven crossroads and management driven) as drivers for network evolution. The main determinant behind these crisis situation were found in the heterogeneity of the network actors and, while overcoming the crossroads, informal sub-networks were found emerging.


This study enlarges current public network literature by focusing specifically on how and why networks change, an aspect underinvestigated by current literature.



Agostino, D., Arnaboldi, M. and Dal Molin, M. (2017), "Critical crossroads to explain network change: evidence from a goal-directed network", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 30 No. 3, pp. 255-269.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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