The importance of policy networks has long been emphasized within the field of policy analysis. However, few attempts have been made to investigate the explanatory power of policy networks using the tools and theoretical concepts provided by social network analysis (SNA). This paper aims to address this need by determining if a relationship exists between the structural features of policy networks, their organizing capacities, and their performance. A comparative case study of four networks within the higher education policy sector confirms the assumption related to the existence of such a relation. It is proposed that an efficient and innovative policy network consists of a heterogeneous set of actors that are centrally and densely integrated. Furthermore, while the level of network heterogeneity is positively related to the function of resource mobilization in the process of policymaking, the level of centralized integration promotes the function of prioritizing. These findings are believed to contribute to our understanding of policymaking in contemporary society. The current paper indicates that a significant explanatory power exists in the concept of policy networks and that SNA is one way of advancing its possibilities.
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