Determinants and consequences of collaborative networking
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Public problems have become so complex that a single organization-driven solution is often infeasible. Recent studies in public administration have given attention to networks as an alternative means for accomplishing public tasks. Although quite a number of studies on network issues have been conducted, there are still many issues to be explicated. With an emphasis on collaborative networking in an emergency context, this study attempts to fill some of this gap. Using a Hurricane Rita context in 2005 and Texas school district data, three research themes are explored: consequences of collaborative networking, determinants of newly activated networking, and networking partner selection and its impact on collaboration success. First, the effects of collaborative networking in preparation for emergencies on organizational performance in both emergency and post-emergency contexts are examined. Empirical results reveal that active networking speeds organizational recovery after Hurricane Rita and moderates negative shocks of Rita on organizations’ core performance. Second, this study investigates individual, organizational, and environmental factors that determine the activation of new networking, a subject that has not been established before. Findings suggest that superintendents’ salary is associated with the activation of new networking, while age shows an inverted U-shaped relationship with the activation of new networking. As for organizational factors, the study finds that organizational capacity is negatively associated with the activation of new networking. Lastly, environmental uncertainty and reliance on external organizations’ resources are associated with the activation of new networking. This study also presents four scenarios of networking partner selection and examines each scenario’s effect on perceived success of collaboration. Results are that the not-intended-but-nonetheless-activated networking brings the most positive outcome and that the intended-and-activated networking results in the second most positive outcome. However, expected values reveal that managers may be better off by pursuing the intended-and-activated networking strategy. This study contributes to public administration literature by exploring network issues left unanswered. However, this study has limitations. Using this study as a starting point, future research is expected to investigate networking in public administration for better understanding of how networking works and how it might be possible to solve complex public problems through networking.