How Structural Variations in Collaborative Governance Networks Influence Advocacy Involvement and Outcomes

Date01 September 2019
Published date01 September 2019
How Structural Variations in Collaborative Governance Networks Inf‌luence Advocacy Involvement and Outcomes 629
Abstract: Collaborative governance is intended to solve complex problems and promote democratic outcomes by
connecting ground-level stakeholders with government. In order for these goals to be met, however, participants must
have meaningful influence and opportunities for voice. Using national survey data from Continuums of Care (CoCs)
mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, this article investigates what structural
characteristics of collaborative governance networks are related to promoting stakeholder inclusion and voice through
policy advocacy involvement. Specifically, it investigates which network characteristics are associated with (1) the
frequency of advocacy involvement by the network, (2) providers’ engagement in and influence over that advocacy, and
(3) the CoC having stronger relationships with policy makers. Findings show significant relationships between greater
network capacity and network advocacy, and between network governance structure and provider engagement and
influence in that advocacy. Networks have stronger relationships with policy makers when providers are more engaged,
providers have more influence, network capacity is higher, and direct advocacy tactics are used.
Evidence for Practice
To meet the accountability and democratic goals of collaborative governance, networks should promote
stakeholder inclusion and voice; advocacy is one way to do that.
Participant engagement and influence in advocacy may be depressed in networks that are governed by a
network administrative organization; these groups may need to take steps to ensure that providers stay
Increasing provider engagement and influence in advocacy is associated with the network having stronger
relationships with key decision makers, which, in turn, may help collaborative governance networks more
effectively fulfill their purpose and improve service delivery systems.
To promote strong relationships with policy makers, collaborative governance networks should focus on
increasing direct advocacy tactics.
Smaller collaborative governance networks and those that are located in rural regions often have less strong
relationships with decision makers, so their advocacy efforts may benefit from these changes the most.
Jennifer E. Mosley
University of Chicago
Meghan Jarpe
University of Chicago
How Structural Variations in Collaborative Governance
Networks Influence Advocacy Involvement and Outcomes
Research Article
Meghan Jarpe is a doctoral candidate in
the School of Social Service Administration
at the University of Chicago. Her research
is focused on the effect of performance
demands on organizational functioning,
public policy, and consumer experiences,
particularly in the human services. Her
practice experience is in managing peer-to-
peer outreach programs and working with
young adults.
Jennifer E. Mosley is an associate
professor in the School of Social Service
Administration at the University of Chicago.
Her research focuses on the relationship
between advocacy and improved democratic
representation and how public administration
and nonprofit management trends, particularly
collaborative governance and contracting,
affect the advocacy role of human service
nonprofits. Her research has been published in
Journal of Public Administration Research
and Theory, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector
Quarterly, Social Service Review,
Affairs Review
Public Administration Review,
Vol. 79, Iss. 5, pp. 629–640. © 2019 by
The American Society for Public Administration.
DOI: 10.1111/puar.13037.
Across social services, participating in
collaborative governance networks has become
an important way for nonprofit service
providers to access resources, policy makers, and
information (Emerson and Nabatchi 2015; Hill and
Lynn 2003). Defined as a “mode of governance [that]
brings multiple stakeholders together in common
forums with public agencies to engage in consensus-
oriented decision making” (Ansell and Gash 2008,
543), collaborative governance networks are formal
associations that give participating ground-level
providers a proverbial seat at the table. Although not
often explicitly framed as such, by providing such a
seat, the growth of collaborative governance in social
service fields has also provided opportunities for
nonprofit service providers to expand their advocacy
influence. By facilitating two-way communication,
collaborative governance processes create a ready-made
entry point to policy makers (Booher 2004). This
can happen when providers advocate to the network
(perhaps hoping to influence its internal practices)
or, as investigated in this article, when a network is
involved in advocacy in order to amplify the voices of
The idea that collaborative governance networks may
play an important advocacy role is comparatively
new in the literature on collaboration. Collaborative
governance networks are generally formed for some
other task—such as regional planning and oversight—
but advocacy needs easily emerge from that work. As
a result, advocacy, when done as an outgrowth of a
collaborative governance process, is likely different
from advocacy carried out by an advocacy coalition

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