Networks for local governance: A case study of the Kindergarten Cluster Management framework in Victoria

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Horiguchi, Hikaru (2017) Networks for local governance: A case study of the Kindergarten Cluster Management framework in Victoria. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


Because of the serious financial plight of local governments (Dollery et. al, 2012) and in response to the emergence of a neo-liberal regime (Geddes, 2005), the Victorian State Government has sought strategies for improving both economic efficiency and participatory democratic governance. Establishing a network form of local governance was one of the strategies, with various actors from non-government sectors joining in the public policy process (Considine and Lewis, 2003). Previous studies did not clearly address the following issues: why the Victorian Local Governments introduced a network structure for their governance, how the involved organizations were coordinated, what affected their collaborative relationships, and the impacts of networking. The purpose of this study was to answer those questions. The Kindergarten Cluster Management policy framework is an example of a local government’s network governance. A multiple-case study was conducted with twelve interviewees who were primary stakeholders of kindergarten service provision in four different local councils. The data collected from the interviews were analyzed by pattern matching following Yin’s (2004) guidelines. This study found that local governments sought to improve economic their efficiency by networking, and that the national and Victorian Governments’ social policies and regulations significantly affected the operations of local governments and community organizations. This research found that three modes of governance - hierarchy, market and network - were utilised as coordinating mechanisms by the collaborating organizations. In contrast to the previous literature, this study found that a hierarchy mode of governance maintained stable and reliable working relationships. The relationships formed through contracts were fragile, which was characteristic of the market mode of governance. The network mode of governance existed in all collaborative relationships, and facilitated the smooth communication among network participants. ‘The Rhodes model’ of policy network (Rhodes 1992, p.13-14), identified in previous research, was not utilizable, but the concept of industrial networks (Johanson and Mattsson, 1991) can also be applied to the connection of organizations involved in the provision of kindergarten services. That said, the different positions held by stakeholders provided different perspectives, particularly in the assessment of networking outcomes.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1503 Business and Management
Current > Division/Research > College of Law and Justice
Keywords local governments; Victorian State Government; local governance; network structure; networking outcomes; Kindergarten Cluster Management
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