Desperately Seeking Selznick: Cooptation and the Dark Side of Public Management in Networks

Laurence J. O'Toole, Kenneth J. Meier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

196 Citations (Scopus)
344 Downloads (Pure)


Most literature on public-sector networks focuses on how to build and manage systems and ignores the political problems that networks can create for organizations. This article argues that individual network nodes can work to bias the organization's actions in ways that benefit the organization's more advantaged clientele. The argument is supported by an analysis of performance data from 500 organizations over a five-year period. A classic theoretical point is supported in a systematic empirical investigation. While networks can greatly benefit the organization, they have a dark side that managers and scholars need to consider more seriously.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)681-693
JournalPublic administration review
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • METIS-221697
  • IR-71698

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