Ideology, Power, and the Structure of Policy Networks


Adam Douglas Henry is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Public Administration, West Virginia University.


This article investigates the role of power and ideology in the endogenous formation of policy networks. According to the Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF), shared ideology (conceptualized as a system of policy-relevant beliefs and values) is the primary driver of collaboration within policy subsystems. On the other hand, Resource Dependency Theory suggests that power-seeking is an important rationale behind network structure, and that collaborative ties are formed primarily on the basis of perceived influence. Hypotheses are tested using a new method of egocentric network correlation, based on survey data of policy networks in five regional planning subsystems in California (N = 506). Results suggest that ideology is an important force behind network cohesion: Not only do policy elites systematically avoid networking with ideologically dissimilar actors but collaborative ties are also systematically formed among actors with shared beliefs. Power-seeking does not operate on a network-wide scale but may drive network formation among coalitions of ideologically similar agents.