Using Network Analysis to Identify Key Actors in Collaborative Governance Processes

Julia L. Carboni, Saba Siddiki, Chris Koski, Abdul Akeem Sadiq

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Collaborative governance is an increasingly popular form of governance. In theory, collaborative governance processes should be inclusive and value the perspectives of multiple stakeholders, including nonprofit organizations. In practice, this may not be the case. Recent work on representation in collaborative governance has found asymmetry in the way actor groups are descriptively and substantively represented in the collaborative governance process. We extend this line of work by employing network methods to create a diagnostic tool to identify which individual actors are substantively represented in collaborative governance processes over time. This tool is designed to systematically evaluate whether individual actors are under or overrepresented in collaborative governance. It provides a starting point for groups to discuss whether they are functionally inclusive and to understand whether non-inclusion is random or systematic. We apply the tool to collaborative governance in a regional food system and find variance in substantive representation by actor, indicating the collaborative governance process diverges from its inclusive design in practice. In particular, nonprofit organizations who are formally part of the collaborative governance process are not substantively represented in formal meetings to the same degree as city and county agencies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-145
Number of pages13
JournalNonprofit Policy Forum
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017


  • affiliation networks
  • collaborative governance
  • diagnostic tool
  • stakeholder representation
  • substantive representation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Public Administration


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