Dark Networks as Problems

Jörg Raab, H. Brinton Milward

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

332 Scopus citations


Networks and networking are viewed as ways of dealing with complex problems that beset both the state and society. Homelessness, health care, and crime are all viewed as problems that networks can manage better than single organizations can. This article views these problems as networks that must be confronted if Western democracies wish to deal with terrorism, drug smuggling, and the manifold pathologies that confront failed states. In this article we adopt the perspective of networks as problems. The majority of the literature on networks and collaboration is quite positive. Collaborative networks are seen as appropriate devices to tackle public management problems and successfully coordinate political, social, and economic action. From the level of global governance, European integration, sectoral policy networks at the national level, and service implementation networks at the local level, these devices are all viewed as ways of solving governance problems in a complex and differentiated world. The research proposed here intends to develop a more holistic view of this phenomenon by looking at dark networks. The article tries to evaluate how network structures and governance are used for criminal or immoral ends. Because the judgment of ends is inherently normative, we propose to talk about overt and legal versus covert and illegal networks. We then analyze where the similarities and differences between the two sets are and what we might be able to learn regarding both forms if we mirror them against each other. The article develops a set of propositions drawn from selected cases of drug-trafficking networks, the diamond and weapons trade, and the Al Qaeda terrorist network.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)413-439
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Public Administration Research and Theory
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Marketing


Dive into the research topics of 'Dark Networks as Problems'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this