Ideology, power, and the structure of policy networks

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161 Scopus citations


This article investigates the role of power and ideology in the endogenous formation of policy networks. According to the Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF), shared ideology (conceptualized as a system of policy-relevant beliefs and values) is the primary driver of collaboration within policy subsystems. On the other hand, Resource Dependency Theory suggests that power-seeking is an important rationale behind network structure, and that collaborative ties are formed primarily on the basis of perceived influence. Hypotheses are tested using a new method of egocentric network correlation, based on survey data of policy networks in five regional planning subsystems in California (N=506). Results suggest that ideology is an important force behind network cohesion: Not only do policy elites systematically avoid networking with ideologically dissimilar actors but collaborative ties are also systematically formed among actors with shared beliefs. Power-seeking does not operate on a network-wide scale but may drive network formation among coalitions of ideologically similar agents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-383
Number of pages23
JournalPolicy Studies Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2011


  • Advocacy Coalition Framework
  • Belief systems
  • Ideology
  • Policy networks
  • Power
  • Regional planning
  • Resource Dependency Theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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