Networking in the Penumbra: Public Management, Cooptative Links, and Distributional Consequences Academic Article uri icon


  • Recently, some researchers have begun to emphasize that governance networks can have a "dark" side as well as a relatively benign one. This work thus far has mostly emphasized illegal and violent forms of action. But even networks that operate in accord with the law often include covert, or at minimum difficult-to-observe, ties and pathways of influence. Likewise, managers involved in networking engage in behavior that is only partially observable. They can use their discretion to shape network action in ways that are hard to discern - and therefore analyze. Research on such subjects is limited, and the practical results of such behavior can include lack of accountability as well as inequitable distribution of outputs and outcomes. This article shows that individual network nodes can work to bias the actions of the organization in ways that are likely to benefit the organization's more advantaged clientele. This study reports on tests for differential impacts of managerial interactions of and with various network partners. The argument is supported with an analysis of performance data from 500 organizations over an eight-year period. Networks and managerial networking can generate considerable benefits but can also have a less palatable impact that managers and scholars need to consider seriously.

published proceedings

  • International Public Management Journal

altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • O'Toole, L. J., & Meier, K. J.

citation count

  • 24

complete list of authors

  • O'Toole, Laurence J||Meier, Kenneth J

publication date

  • September 2006