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network governance

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The basis of network governance is trust

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March 2016 marked the beginning of a new programme series at the Ludovika Residence Hall of National University of Public Service (NUPS). The Leading Change Executive Forum is an international event under the patronage of dr. Robert Kramer, International Chair at NUPS, and is aimed at reviewing new leadership methods.

The first speaker of the series was dr. Patrick Kenis, Academic Dean of Antwerp Management School giving an excellent presentation on the efficiency of network governance. As Professor Kenis reminded, the United Nations’ 2015 World Public Sector Report titled ‘Responsive and Accountable Public Governance’ highlighted a key issue: in a world where complex problems can only be addressed with complex answers, the demand of accountability in its traditional sense can no longer be applied, as that would suggest the presence of a central directing organ. The vertical approach is steadily shifted with a horizontal one, which is based on none other than trust.

When exactly can we talk about network governance? – asked the Academic Dean, adding: in each case where the joint cooperation of three or more legally autonomous organization leads to results that the organs could not achieve individually. The increased efficiency, however, has several prerequisites: the respective parties share the information with each other, they perform their respective tasks according to their best knowledge, and do not strive for dominance. In fact, in addition to sharing the task, having the achievements available for the community – without anyone privatizing it – is also a part of the process.

Professor Kenis summarized that the criteria of a well functioning network is that it is organized, i.e. its members follow a clear protocol under neither too strong or too weak regulations, it maintains the variety of the parties while keeping them in unity, and consists of members that acknowledge the right, necessity an efficiency of their fellows’ participation.