Is Politics Power Or Policy Driven? A Comparative Analysis Of Dynamic Access Models In Policy Networks

Frans N. Stokman, Evelien .P.H. Zeggelink

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In policy networks actors use access relations to influence preferences of other actors. Establishment and shifts of access relations and their consequences for outcomes of decisions are the main focal points in this paper. Unlike most policy network studies, we therefore do not take the network and its relations as given and constant. Instead we device computer simulation models to account for the dynamics in policy networks. We compare different models and investigate the resulting network structures and predicted outcomes of decisions. The choice among the alternative models is made by their correspondence with empirical network structures and actual outcomes of decisions. In our models, we assume that all relevant actors aim at policy outcomes as close as possible to their own preferences. Policy outcomes are determined by the preferences cSf the final decision makers at the moment of the vote. In general, only a small fraction of the actors takes .part in the final vote. Most actors have therefore to rely on access relations for directly or indirectly shaping the preferences of the final decision makers. For this purpose actors make access requests to other actors. An access relation is assumed to be established if such a request is accepted by the othcr actor. Access relations require time and resources. Actors are therefore assumed to be restricted in the number of access requests they can make and the number of requests they can accept. Moreover, due to incomplete information and simultaneous actions by other actors, actors have to make simplifying assumptions in the selection of their "best" requests and learn by experience. We device two base models that correspond to two basic views on the nature of political processes. In the first view politics is seen as power driven. Corresponding to this view, actors aim at access relations with the most powerful actors in the field. They estimate their likelihood of success by comparing their own resources with those of the target actors. Power also determines the order in which actors accept requests. In the second view, policy matters and actors roughly estimate the effects access relations might have on the outcome of decisions. Actors select requests to "bolster" Their own preference as much as possible. We will show that these base models and some intermediate ones result in fundamentally different network structures and predicted outcomes. Moreover, we will show that the policy driven models do fundamentally better than the power driven models.
Originele taal-2English
Aantal pagina's0
TijdschriftThe Journal of Mathematical Sociology
Volume21
Nummer van het tijdschrift1
StatusPublished - 1996

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