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Abstract

Networks have become a central concept in the policy and public management literature; however, theoretical development is hindered by a lack of attention to the empirical properties of network measurement methods. This paper compares three survey-based methods for measuring organizational networks: the roster, the free-recall name generator, and a hybrid name generator that combines these two classic approaches. Results indicate that the roster and free-recall name generator methods both suffer from important limitations. The roster method tends to measure many linkages among a limited set of network actors, whereas the name generator tends to measure fewer linkages among a larger set of network actors. Using survey data on policy networks within California regional planning processes (N = 752), we find that the hybrid method strikes an effective balance between these techniques. The hybrid approach performs well in terms of identifying a large number of network actors and interconnections between them. Although no survey-based measurement technique is perfect, this study suggests that the hybrid name generator is an excellent alternative for the measurement of complex networks with large or shifting boundaries that encompass a diverse set of actors.