Multiplex Network Analysis for Complex Governance Systems Using Surveys and Online Behavior.

Published in Policy Studies Journal, 2018

Recommended citation: Hayes, A.L., & Scott, T.A. (2018). "Multiplex Network Analysis for Complex Governance Systems Using Surveys and Online Behavior." Policy Studies Journal, 46(2), 327-353.


Text analysis, web scraping, and other computational techniques enable policy network researchers to efficiently obtain objective measures of network connections. However, the extent to which these observational methods differ from traditional survey instrument-based measures remains an open question. Focusing on a large regional policy network of 221 organizations, this study compares a measure of collaboration generated via survey instrument to two different measures based upon internet hyperlinks and Twitter interactions between network actors. We address two questions: (1) To what extent do objective network measures based upon observed online interactions and subjective measures based upon self-reported relationships reveal the same inter-organizational partnerships and structural network dynamics? and (2) How useful are online network measures for supplementing survey-based network measures? We find a significant, but substantively small, correlation between survey-based measures and online interactions. Thus, online network measures may complement survey-based measures, but likely reflect different aspects of the overall policy network. We conclude by discussing the potential for multiplex measures of policy networks that draw upon multiple measures to more fully understand policy network landscapes. These results bridge and help to contextualize prior work on policy network measures and virtual policy networks within the broader context of complex governance systems.