The Construction of (Non-)Responsibility in Governance Networks

Rolien Willmes, Margit van Wessel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The notion of governance networks urges study of complex interaction processes rather than formal institutions. We argue that the study of interaction in governance networks should be widened to include different ways in which interaction shapes network outcomes. Here, we focus on a dimension of governance networks that is understood as fundamental and problematic, but that as yet has not been researched through the study of interaction: the construction of responsibility in such networks. We propose a model for the analysis of responsibility construction through (implicit) negotiation on the three proposed elements of responsibility and their links: stakeholder identities, contributions to reform, and norms. This model called “the triangle of responsibility in network governance” is the main result of our research. In addition, we offer an empirical case that illustrates both the problem of responsibility construction in network governance and the usefulness of our model, thereby providing proof of concept.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSAGE Open
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021


  • dialogue
  • discourse analysis
  • governance networks
  • livestock farming
  • multi-stakeholder processes
  • Netherlands
  • responsibility
  • sustainability


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