The Global Development Network (GDN) and the Researchers Alliance for Development (RAD) are networks linking the professional ecology of the World Bank to the diverse research ecologies of universities and think-tanks. These ‘knowledge networks’ can entangle research environments extensively with policy communities and the institutional interests of powerful organizations. Connecting different professional ecologies via networks creates complex sets of relationships between researchers and policy makers. The ‘grey areas’ of professional overlap highlight the ‘co-production’ of (social) science in development policy. The author based her analysis of the dual dynamics of network autonomy and co-option on participant observation of GDN and RAD as a past member of the governing bodies of both networks.