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Administrators’ and Elected Officials’ Collaboration Networks: Selecting Partners to Reduce Risk in Economic Development

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Abstract

Networks play an important role in collaboration, but previous work has not examined the different roles of elected and appointed officials in these networks. This article investigates local economic development policy networks to address (1) the extent to which the structure of relationships reflects the efforts of actors to efficiently collect and process information or to enhance credible commitment; (2) the extent to which differences in incentives and risk aversion lead to differences in politicians’ and administrators’ networks; and (3) how similarities and differences between local governments affect their network relationships. Exponential random graph analysis of local governments in the Orlando, Florida, metropolitan area demonstrate that local government actors forge tightly clustered networks, consistent with the desire to address commitment problems. Although administrators have more expansive networks, there is little evidence of differences in network patterns for administrators and elected officials. Similarity of economic problems and differences in population also promotes collaboration. These findings are linked to the competitive nature of economic development.

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