Interorganizational Collaboration Networks in Economic Development Policy: An Exponential Random Graph Model Analysis


  • This article is funded by Dankook University.

Youngmi Lee is an assistant professor in the Department of Public Administration at Kyonggi University. Her research focuses on local economic development policy, network management and leadership, collaborative governance, and social network analysis. Her work has appeared in Public Administration Review, Policy Studies Journal, and Internal Review of Public Administration.

In Won Lee (corresponding author) is an assistant professor in the Department of Public Administration at Dankook University. His research focuses on urban management and policy, local public finance, collaborative governance, energy and sustainable growth policy, and interorganizational and intersectoral management. His work has appeared in Public Administration Review, Urban Affairs Review, Internal Review of Public Administration, and other journals. E-mail:

Richard C. Feiock is Augustus B. Turnbull Professor of Public Administration at Florida State University. His books include City–County Consolidation and Its Alternatives (M. E. Sharpe, 2004), Metropolitan Governance: Conflict, Competition, and Cooperation (Georgetown University Press, 2004), and Self-Organizing Federalism (Cambridge University Press, 2009). His current work is supported by the National Science Foundation and the Lincoln Institute for Land Policy.


Regional economic development competition can be inefficient and destructive because decisions by one governmental unit can impose both externalities on its neighbors. Collaborative networks of multiple stakeholders within and across jurisdictions are an increasingly crucial component of regional economic development. In this article, we focus on the emergence of voluntary and self-organizing network relationships among local governments to address economic development concerns. The motivations and decisions of local actors play a critical role in shaping and implementing regional collaboration. On a micro level, the collaboration choices are shaped by three primary factors: the transaction costs reflected in the configuration of relationships in which an actor is embedded; the organizational similarities (homophily); and the resource dependencies that shape the local actors' preferences for forming relationships with other specific actors. We utilize an exponential random graph model (ERGM) to test hypotheses regarding the most prominent observed patterns of network relationships within and across different organizational sectors. The results demonstrate that both reciprocity and social clustering structures are preferred by both government and nongovernment organizations. These results suggest that interorganizational collaboration for economic development requires more than simple exchange relationships. Rather, network actors may be better served by participating in a densely clustered network that is capable of maintaining credible commitments to collective solutions.