Civil Society Networks: Options for Network Design

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Abstract

Civil society networks are critical actors in international development and social change, even as they are organizationally complex and challenging to design and manage. Network forms of organization may be “neither markets nor hierarchies,” but there is little shared understanding globally about the options that exist for designing interorganizational network structures or the conditions under which different options may be selected. This empirical study of thirty networks across eleven sectors and five global regions contributes a new conceptual framework for categorizing different types of network structures based on the level of interdependence among network members. Findings reveal three distinct network design options, indicate patterns of network development, and suggest several conditions that may influence the design of civil society networks.

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