Governance Theory as a Framework for Empirical Research (Pehmeäkantinen kirja)

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Governance has been one of the most popular buzzwords in recent political science. As with any term shared by numerous fields of research, as well as everyday language, governance is encumbered by a jungle of definitions and applications. This work elaborates on the concept of network governance.

Network governance refers to complex policy-making situations, where a variety of public and private actors collaborate in order to produce and define policy. Governance is processes of autonomous, self-organizing networks of organizations exchanging information and deliberating. Network governance is a theoretical concept that corresponds to an empirical phenomenon. Often, this phenomenon is used to descirbe a historical development: governance is often used to describe changes in political processes of Western societies since the 1980s. In this work, empirical governance networks are used as an organizing framework, and the concepts of autonomy, self-organization and network structure are developed as tools for empirical analysis of any complex decision-making process.

This work develops this framework and explores the governance networks in the case of environmental policy-making in the City of Helsinki, Finland. The crafting of a local ecological sustainability programme required support and knowledge from all sectors of administration, a number of entrepreneurs and companies and the inhabitants of Helsinki. The policy process relied explicitly on networking, with public and private actors collaborating to design policy instruments.

Communication between individual organizations led to the development of network structures and patterns. This research analyses these patterns and their effects on policy choice, by applying the methods of social network analysis. A variety of social network analysis methods are used to uncover different features of the networked process. Links between individual network positions, network subgroup structures and macro-level network patterns are compared to the types of organizations involved and final policy instruments chosen.
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