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Networking and Performance



The relations mangers maintain with various types of “external organizations” is sometimes referred to as the external social capital of organizations or the “bridging ties” of firms. Managers maintain relations with suppliers, stakeholders, clients, alliance partners, regulatory agencies, or political institutions in order to reduce uncertainties in technical, political, and economic demands; to tap resources from their organization’s environment; and to buffer environmental shocks.

Managers’ networking activity with a variety of external organizations and actors is positively associated with organizational performance. The relation between inter-organizational networks and organizational performance has been studied mainly from two perspectives. The first is the perspective of the “ego-centered networks” of public managers. The second is the “whole network” perspective. Research shows that the network perspective is crucial to understand vital questions related to collaboration and coordination in the public sector. Within the network approach, alternative hypotheses have been formulated about successful networks and networking; for example the intensity of networking, the closure of network ties, and paradoxical effects of individual and collective strategies in networks on performance. This is even more important considering the massive public sector reforms that are planned in many countries across the world for the coming decades. In this course, we study the mechanisms that underlie successful collaboration and coordination between organizations and test some core hypotheses on newly collected data.

In a series of seven seminars the theoretical-empirical literature on inter-organizational networks/networking is discussed on the basis of specific studies. The mode of instruction is close interaction between lecturer and student in tutorial format. Students analyze, present, and discuss studies.

Learning objectives

After this course, students are able to:

1a. Reflect on the strengths and weaknesses in the main approaches in the academic literature on inter-organizational networks and collaboration in the public sector with respect to: – (Resource) dependencies in the environments of public organizations and organizational survival – Origins and causes of managerial networking behavior – Origins of inter-organizational network structures – Explanations for the effects of these activities

1b. Reflect on the empirical evidence for: – The positive (intended) effects of these activities and structures on public sector performance – Unanticipated effects and perverse effects of these activities and structures on public sector performance

  1. Provide a clear and consistent summary of an existing empirical study into inter-organizational networks (networking); discuss how that study fits into one of the main approaches; analyze its scientific strengths and weaknesses.

3a. Translate a key issue/research question in the field into a scientific research question or into an applied research question about a specific (semi-) public organization or a network of (semi-) public organizations of choice.

3b. Develop a research proposal to address this (applied) research question, in terms of: – Writing an appropriate introduction – Developing a theoretical framework (including hypotheses) – Developing an appropriate research design – Discussing the feasibility, validity and reliability of proposal.



Methods of instruction

This course consists of lectures and is compulsory.

Study load

  • total study load 140 hrs., of which: – contact hours: 3 hrs. per week x 7 weeks = 21 hrs. – self-study hours: 119 preparing for lectures/tutorials, studying literature, completing assignments, etc.

Method of assessment

1) Each student makes one individual assignment (weight 40 percent), which is a review of an empirical study in the field of inter-organizational networking research in an empirical domain, selected by the student from an international journal.

2) Each student writes one individual research proposal (weight 60 percent) about networking and performance, which includes an introduction, theoretical framework, research design and preliminary discussion.
The final grade is defined as the weighted average of the assignment and paper. Important: in order to receive a final grade, students must have earned a minimum grade of 5.5 for both the assignment and the paper.


Yes. This page is available approximately two weeks before the course starts.

Other course materials/literature

We use one text book and a selection of scientific articles in this course. The literature is mandatory reading for the pages that are specified in the course schedule.

Text book

‘O’Toole Jr, L. J., & Meier, K. J. (2011). Public management: Organizations, governance, and performance. Cambridge University Press. (ISBN: 9781107004412)

Journal articles
In addition to the book, there is mandatory reading of a number of scientific articles. (All articles are accessible in the online access journals of Leiden University library.)


Registration for every course and exam in USIS is mandatory. For courses, registration is possible from four weeks up to three days before the start of the course.
For exams, registration is possible from four weeks up to ten days before the date of the examination.


Bekerom MSc, P.E.A. van den,