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Latest Update: 25 Jul 2014

types of networks

Types of networks

According to their role and characteristics, several types of networks are distinguished:

The BwN developer who is active in networks should look at the characteritics of the network and reflect on what the potential of this participation and the network might be. Efforts to participate in new networks should be evaluated by the same criteria. And finally the BwN developer should reflect upon the question whether it would be beneficial to start an BwN network, what the characteristics of that network should be and which activities would fit.


Discourse network

The discourse network exists of organizations and individuals that try to reframe problem-issue perceptions in society. Normally these interlinked actors advocate an overarching perspective that should be applied to several problems/issues. Advocating Building with Nature over traditional engineering approaches is an example of what could be called a discourse. Re-labeling and reframing ongoing debates in society, offering broader or alternative concepts and frameworks.The characteritics of a discourse analysis fit in a strategy that try to loosen up jammed and locked up arenas and processes. Although discours networks do not easily line up with power structures, their influence can be substantial.

Policy community

The term policy community is used to refer to a set of actors who share a common identity or stake in a certain policy sector. These networks are often rather stable networks and active in multiple arenas. The characteritics of a policy community fit in a strategy that try to establish long term change in a/the policy domain. Policy communities operate long time horizons and broad geographical scales. This offers a network to the BwN developers of stable and significant influence, the downside is that it is not easy to connect and integrate in such a network.

Resource dependency network

The term resource dependency network relates to relatively stable links between organizations that are built upon exchange relations. It is crucial for the members to conitinue the relationships because they depend heavily on each other for resources such as finances, expertise and legitimacy. These networks are permeable on the basis of the exchange relationships the BwN developer might be able to offer. Resource dependency networks are not crucial for entering issues on the political agenda, they are however crucial for the realization of BwN alternatives. It is wise for BwN developers to think about how to arange for instance connections with beneficiaries of eco-system services and more genereally speaking needed resources 

Issue network

The term issue network relates to groups of actors, organizations and predomininately individuals that join forces for securing their stake. Often the issue network does not take an integral perspective with regard to the issues in the policy domain. These kinds of issue networks are not very stable and are easily joined. The focus of issue networks will be too limted for BwN developers, issue networks will often proof to opposing BwN alternatives. The capacity to steer the policy agenda is limited.

Epistemic community

The term epistemic community is not directly linked to the power structure and predominately brings together experts that collect and analyze information, data and knowledge and connect these to issues, regardless whether the issue is on the political agenda or not. Epistemic communities can be valuable for BwN developers if they focus on the relevant system knowledge, since BwN alternatives need to be based on thorough system knowledge.