Do Political Similarities Facilitate Interlocal Collaboration?

Date01 March 2018
Published date01 March 2018
Do Political Similarities Facilitate Interlocal Collaboration? 261
Public Administration Review,
Vol. 78, Iss. 2, pp. 261–269. © 2017 by
The American Society for Public Administration.
DOI: 10.1111/puar.12887.
Kyujin Jung is assistant professor in
the College of Liberal Arts and associate
director of the Social Disaster and
Safety Management Center at Korea
University. He has performed grant
research projects funded by the National
Science Foundation, IBM Center for the
Business of Government, and Seoul
Institute, to investigate interorganizational
collaboration. His research has appeared
in Public Administration Review,
Urban Affairs Review, Government
Information Quarterly
and Quality &
Quantity . His research interests include
interorganizational arrangements, social
network analysis, and issues related to
emergency management.
Hyung Jun Park is associate professor
in the Department of Public Administration
and the Graduate School of Governance
at Sungkyunkwan University in Korea. His
research on policy network, policy analysis,
collaborative governance, economic
development, regulatory policies other
topics has been published in Urban Affairs
Review, Public Administration Review
Public Management Review
Review of Public Administration, and
Korean academic journals. He received his
PhD at Florida State University in 2005.
Minsun Song is visiting assistant
professor in the School of Public Policy and
Leadership at the University of Nevada,
Las Vegas. She earned her PhD at Florida
State University in 2016. Her research
focuses on issues related to emergency
management, collaborative networks, and
local governance.
Abstract: This research examines the extent to which political similarities—that is, homophily between political
actors at the local level—affect patterns of interorganizational collaboration in an emergency response situation. While
the field of emergency management has focused on implementation-oriented arrangements among key stakeholders,
few studies have systemically investigated the creation and development of interorganizational collaborations led
by political actors, especially following catastrophic events. The analysis reveals that a dyadic tie with political
homophily boosts local responders’ ties with other agencies during emergencies. Findings indicate that political
solidarity, formulated by chief elected officials of municipalities and council members, can broaden the scope of
interorganizational collaboration by mitigating institutional collective action problems at the local level. This research
presents a critical recommendation for emergency managers that interlocal collaboration for timely response to a
disaster is attributable to political similarities that facilitate frequent interlocal interactions through formal and/or
informal agreements .
Evidence for Practice
Collaboration mechanisms embedded in political homophily matter, highlighting the important managerial
aspects played by mayors and representatives.
Political similarities are important not only for enhancing a strong commitment but also for reducing the
risks associated with interorganizational collaboration.
With the increasing number of joint response operations, mayors and representatives need to consider
political homogeneities that are suitable to meet interlocal interests and policy preferences.
Minsun Song
University of Nevada , Las Vegas
Hyung Jun Park
Sungkyunkwan University
Kyujin Jung
Korea University
Do Political Similarities Facilitate Interlocal Collaboration?
D espite a corpus of empirical and theoretical
studies on interorganizational networks,
hypotheses about how similarities among
actors, such as sociodemographic or geographic
features or political homogeneity, can influence
networks remain less explored (Comfort, Waugh, and
Cigler 2012; Kapucu, Augustin, and Garayev 2009 ;
Shrestha 2013 ). Homogenous actors are more likely
to ensure network ties than heterogeneous actors
(Gerber, Henry, and Lubell 2013 ). This similarity
characteristic among actors, referred to as homophily,
has been identified as a critical determinant of
interlocal collaboration in other policy arenas (Gerber,
Henry, and Lubell 2013 ; McPherson, Smith-Lovin,
and Cook 2001 ).
Theoretical inquir y into political homophily is rare in
emergency management compared with other policy
areas. Collaboration among fragmented authorities
is associated with the policy problems that are being
addressed, the economic gains for participants, and
the nature of the disasters (Gerber, Henry, and Lubell
2013 ). Although the creation and development of
interorganizational collaboration, led by political
actors as decision makers, is regarded as significant, it
has hardly been investigated in emergency contexts.
Rather, it has been considered a part of systematic
implementation. This article will assess this crucial
form of political homophily (i.e., the extent to which
participants with similar political ideologies are more
likely to collaborate).
Institutional collective action (ICA) dilemmas
emerge from fragmented authority. These are cases
in which actors weigh the potential transaction
costs of interaction and the benefits of collaboration
(Feiock 2009 , 2013 ; Feiock and Scholz 2010 ). In
creating multifunctional and multilayered emergency
networks, local government officials overseeing
governmental agencies consider the consequences of
interorganizational collaboration, but the partisan
aspects of decision making may differ depending
on political ideologies (Gerber, Henry, and Lubell
2013 ). In creating interorganizational ties across local

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