Networks of Adjacent Action Situations in Polycentric Governance


Michael D. McGinnis is Professor of Political Science and Director of Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, Indiana University, Bloomington.


Within the Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework, the concept of an action situation generalizes a game to allow for endogenous changes in its rules. This article re-visits this core concept to explore its potential for serving as the foundation for a systematic approach to the construction of more elaborate models of complex policy networks in which overlapping sets of actors have the ability to influence the rules under which their strategic interactions take place. Networks of adjacent action situations can be built on the basis of the seven distinct types of rules that define an action situation or by representing generic governance tasks identified in related research on local public economies. The potential of this extension of the IAD framework is demonstrated with simplified network representations of three diverse policy areas (Maine lobster fisheries, international development assistance, and the contribution of faith-based organizations to U.S. welfare policy).