Professor in Political Science and Computer and Information Science

David Lazer

Networked Governance

The informational dimensions of governance


The word “government” conjures the image of hierarchy and well arranged organizational charges. The reality of governing, however, is far messier—of interdependent agencies and decision makers arrayed around a complex array of problems. “Networked governance” is meant to evoke this reality of distributed authority and interlocked problems.

My own research has focused on the informational dimensions of governance—how the information produced by some actors in a system might produce positive externalities for others. Thus, for example, my research has examined how DNA laboratories—which are dispersed geographically and institutionally—wrestle with common issues around rapidly evolving technology. Similarly, other research has examined the extent to which communications directors in the offices of Members of Congress share their knowledge with each other (not very much as it turns out!), and State Health Officials (the lead official in each state for health related policy) share their experiences.

Networked Governance: Publications List

Publications list

K. Esterling, M. Neblo, and D. Lazer, Connecting to Constituents: The Diffusion of Representation Practices among Congressional Websites, Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming.

M. Binz-Scharf, D. Lazer, and I. Mergel,  Searching for answers: Networks of Practice among Public Administrators. American Review of Public Administration, 41(2), 2012: 202-225.

 D. Lazer, I. Mergel, C. Ziniel, K. Esterling, and M. Neblo, “The multiple institutional logics of innovation,” International Public Management Journal, 14, 2011: 311-340.

 I. Mergel, D. Lazer, and M. Binz-Scharf, “Lending a helping hand:  Voluntary engagement in knowledge sharing in a network of professionals,” International Journal of Learning and Change 3(1), 2008.

Journal Article
Publication date: 
David Lazer
Ines Mergel
Curtis Ziniel
Kevin Esterling
Michael Neblo

How do decentralized systems deal with innovation? In particular, how do they aggregate the myriad experiences of their component parts, facilitate diffusion of information, and encourage investments in innovation? This is a classic problem in the study of human institutions.

collective problem solving
decentralized system
diffusion of information