Some time ago I sent a message to this list about environmental management systems (below), and foreshadowed work on ERGMs and social ecological systems in terms of multilevel networks.


For those interested, this work has now started to appear. I refer you to two articles in Ecology and Society:

Guerrero et al (2015). Achieving social-ecological fit through bottom-up collaborative governance: an empirical investigation.

Bodin et al (2016). Theorizing benefits and constraints in collaborative environmental governance: a transdisciplinary approach for empirical investigations.





Professor Garry Robins

Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences

The University of Melbourne

Victoria 3010




Melnet website:


Check out my new book: Doing social network research: Network-based research design for social scientists. (







From: Social Networks Discussion Forum [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Garry Robins
Sent: Wednesday, 28 January 2015 5:04 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Sustainability as a normative outcome and SNA


The really interesting question here is what counts as an effective network structure in terms of sustainability (or indeed more generally what counts as “effective” network structure for any particular social system and outcome).


You could engage the network governance literature, although large parts of that literature treat the idea of a network as a metaphor or an interpretive device and not an empirical topic of investigation. Let me suggest a few articles which have a more overt network formulation that could be tested:

Carlsson and Sandstrom (2008). Network governance of the commons. International Journal of the commons 2, 35-54.

Berardo & Scholz (2010). Self organizing policy networks: Risk, partner selection and cooperation in estuaries. American Journal of Political Science, 54, 632-649.

Jones, Hesterley & Borgatti (1997). A general theory of network governance: Exchange conditions and social mechanisms. Academy of Management Review, 22, 911-945.

Robins, Bates & Pattison. (2011). Network governance and environmental management: Conflict and cooperation. Public Administration, 89, 1293-1313.

Kenis & Provan (2009). Towards an exogenous theory of public network performance. Public Administration, 87, 440-456.

Lubell (2013). Governing institutional complexity: the ecology of games framework. Policy Studies Journal, 41.


Others have mentioned the Bodin and Prell book, which is excellent.


A really interesting development is the study of social ecological systems. You could try:

Ostrom (2009) A general framework for analyzing sustainability of social-ecological systems. Science, 325, 419.


But even Elinor Ostrom’s work leaves the network structure relatively undifferentiated.


So to go further, for a very innovative take on a serious network conceptualization of social-ecological systems, look at:

Bodin & Tengo (2012). Disentangling intangible social-ecological systems. Global Environmental Change.


And then you will see that this structure is actually that of a multilevel network, as per Lazega et al (2008), Catching up with big fish in the big pond? Multilevel network analysis through linked design, Social Networks, 30, 57-176;

and Wang et al. (2013). Exponential random graph models for multilevel networks. Social Networks, 35, 96-115.


(Which is why we are currently working on ERGMs and social ecological systems… more to come on that topic).










From: Social Networks Discussion Forum [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Jordi Comas
Sent: Wednesday, 28 January 2015 9:56 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Sustainability as a normative outcome and SNA


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Hi all-


Some colleagues asked me about preparing a course about network theory and research within a Sustainability curriculum.


"Sustainability" here means not just "being green," but something broader in the sense of organizations or social systems that create value today in ways that ensure the capacity to function in the future.  In my mind, it overlaps some with ideas about managing common goods as well as normative approaches to stakeholder managing.  Also, what some would call robust action.


Do any obvious or non-obvious links to research or research topics come to mind to this fine group?


Thanks as always!





Jordi Comas

"There is nothing so practical as a good theory."  Kurt Lewin

Assistant Professor
School of Management
Bucknell University
Taylor 112
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