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The Policy Network Strategy

The final result of the INSPIRED process results from the work carried throughout the Monitoring and Alignment phase and consists of the identification, depiction and animation of a multi-stakeholder Policy Network. These networks have become increasingly important in the way in which governments fulfil their functions, as they usually rely on other actors not only to design and deliver public goods and services, but also to carry out other types of policy functions. Indeed, a change of paradigm in the understanding of public action is well underway in most countries, where governments are increasingly accepting that the complexity of public problems calls for collaborative ways of public management that go beyond the “classical” forms of public administration.
However, this turn toward a more horizontal and polycentric way of understanding governance is quite intuitive and in many cases, these Policy Networks go unnoticed, i.e.: they certainly exist but are neither understood nor conceptualized as such. Formal and informal contacts between policymakers, officials and the private and non-profit sectors are essential for the proper functioning of public policies, but all these connections often remain invisible and thus become a source of distrust for the other nodes of the network (as, for instance, with the phenomenon known as “revolving doors”). To avoid these suspicions, as well as to tap on the full potential of the policy network, the INSPIRED method concludes with a Network Analysis that seeks to showcase its key nodes (a.k.a. stakeholders) and the relations amongst them so as to promote a comprehensive understanding of its workings and develop fruitful policy partnerships.