Jürgen R. Grote
Regionale Vernetzung: Interorganisatorische Strukturdifferenzen regionaler Politikgestaltung

Arbeitsbereich III; 23
ISSN: 0948-0099

The network metaphor abounds in the fields of regional development studies and of research on forms of subnational government. Unlike the analysis of strategic networks (Powell; Sydow; Staber), of policy networks (Mayntz/ Marin; Kenis/ Schneider) and of policy domain networks (Knoke/ Pappi/ Broadbent/ König), there is no central point of reference in this debate to which authors could turn in their attempts to gauge territorial interdependencies. The most different network conceptions overlap to an extent which makes systematic comparison close to impossible. This paper tries to overcome the conceptual inflation by undertaking a quantitative network analysis of nine administrative regions of five EU member states (Lombardy, Sicily, Rhone-Alpes, Languedoc-Roussillon, Baden-Württemberg, Lower Saxony, Catalonia, Andalusia, Wales). The relations that connect the 274 public institutions and private organizations forming part of the networks are conceptualized in terms of subnational state-society relations, i.e. as the political ecologies of different types of regions. Information on the density and centralization of the networks and of the position of actors (blockmodel analysis) within these networks is supplemented by additional responses of 990 further organizations belonging to the overall sample of this study. In a last step, the paper tries to analyze the external relationships of networks and network members to institutions such as central governments and EU authorities (Commission, Council, etc.) and to confront, first, the external and internal relational performance of organizations within each region and, secondly, the contact portfoglios of organizations across different regions. Although, in part, counter-intuitive, the results give rise to a number of questions and largely correct the findings of available qualitative studies in the field. For example, relational redundancy is not necessarily condusive to good performance (the case of Sicily) and hierarchical ordering may not be an obstacle to good performance (the case of Baden-Württemberg). Networks, as elsewhere, do exist in regional politics but ascribing them the most incredible virtues (generators of trust and other-regardingness), is often hardly more but a myth.