Dear all. Am sorry to bother you with such a long question, but since no one in my academic network can give me any advice on this, I am dependent on you and want you to have the information you need if you feel like answering: 

I am currently doing a research project about socio-political networks in regional policy in Northern Norway and Southern Italy. For this I use NA to map the network connecting different types of actors (economic, trades and unions, political institutions, development consultancies). I work from a hypothesis that the centrality and alliances of the actors influence their room for manoeuvre in regional policy, and also that these networks show strong signs of path dependence and are rather a product of state and nation building and early strategies and alliances, than simply a product of formal rules and procedures in regional policy. The actors defined are asked to answer a simple questionnaire with only two questions posed: how influential do you perceive these actors to be, and how often do you have contact with these actors? The list of actors, and thus also the respondents, are pre-defined. The data from Northern Norway have already been collected and analyzed, the results from the NA stats being completely and wonderfully compatible with my expectations. The list of actors here were defined from theory, formal listings of cooperating actors, and (the point) from some central actors’ advice and input on the list. The respondents were also asked if they felt like someone was missing from the list, and they did not. Thus it all went, from my point of view, very well. BUT the collection of data in southern Italy is causing me more problems. Due to distance, economic resources and time, I do not have the opportunity to walk around interviewing the right people to get the list of actors as complete as I would want to. I’ve put together a list though on the basis of theory, comparative considerations, formal records, papers etc, and the list has been evaluated by one person within the Italian treasury department working in the field. My problem is that the insiders in the region at task do not answer my requests for help in evaluating the list (and people tell me they will not). Also the myriad of actors involved in this field in southern Italy is well known and it seems that no one really knows who should be on the list (and as I off course need answers from everyone on the list, it should not be too long). So right now I am very tempted to go through with the collection of answers to my questionnaire with the list as it is, mainly based though on theoretical and comparative considerations. WOULD I BE TERRIBLY WRONG, AND MIGHT IT CAUSE ME CONSIDERABLE PROBLEMS LATER ON WHEN MY WORK IS GOING TO BE EVALUATED (it is to be a PHD thesis)?

Best, Toini Løvseth

Research fellow
Department of political science
University of Tromsø, Norway
T: +47 77 85 12 14/F: +47 77 85 12 30

Contact adress:
Box 327
N-9305 Finnsnes