This paper compares four cases and explores the effects on network performance of network governance, coordination mechanisms, and the abilities of the network manager. The focus is on shared-governance networks, which are in general considered to have difficulties achieving high-level performances. The cross-case comparison suggests a relationship between coordination mechanisms and the way shared-governance networks are managed: in order to be successful, they must be able to rely on formalized mechanisms and make a pool of ''network administrators'' responsible for their governance.
Despite a general consensus on the importance of collaborative settings for the solution of 'wicked' problems, questions of how to successfully manage public networks remain without a clear answer. Some authors highlighted the importance of the network structure and context; other authors shed light on network management and coordination mechanisms. More recently, some scholars have stressed the criticality of 'soft' factors, such as interorganizational trust. In this multifaceted landscape, the goal of the special issue is to stimulate a dialogue on the functioning of public networks, and contribute to the development of sound knowledge about how to make them succeed.
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