1. The purpose of this webpage
...is to explain how network
be used to describe
development projects. Descriptions can be useful for documenting an intended set of
activities and outcomes, and for documenting the actual activities
and the outcomes that eventuate. An evaluation will normally need
to develop and compare both types of description.
There are some related webpages that are relevant:
perspective on development projects: More than a metaphor. A
2004 conference paper by Rick Davies. This provides an overview of why
network perspective is relevant, and some of the wider implications of
taking a network perspective.
- Also relevant: "Scale, Complexity and the
Representation of Theories of Change Part I and Part II", in Evaluation,
10(1):101-121. (2004) and Vol 11(2):133-149, (2005),
Sage Publications, London. Request
and analysis of networks, a section of the MandE NEWS
website. This includes a link to "Networks and Evaluation" emailing
list with approximately 100+ members
with the Logical Framework, a section of the MandE
NEWS website. Network models can provide a complement to, and
an alternative to, Logical Framework descriptions of development
|2. Where are network models
likely to be a useful means of description? (return to Contents)
Network models are likely to be useful in any of the following
kinds of settings:
Network models can also be useful as a means of describing projects
that are more "traditional", where there is a single agreed objective,
clear lines of authority, clearly differentiated responsibilities, and
which can be describe by a temporal logical model (e.g. a
Framework). Here network models can provide supplementary detail that
cannot be easily represented otherwise. See section 5 below for more on
- Where there are many actors (people and / or
organisations) who are fairly autonomous and where there is no central
authority able to direct the behavior of all the other actors.
- In large projects with many stakeholders,
projects with few, where a single authority is less likely to be found.
National and international level development activities are
to have larger numbers of actors, without there being one over-riding
- In projects where there is no single objective,
alternative and/or competing objectives. These may be symptomatic of
the absence of a central authority, and / or the intention that the
participating parties have considerable independence.
- In projects where a given output may be used by
actors and a given actor may use many outputs. In other words, where
there is a complex web of relationships, not simple one-to-one
- In projects deliberately designed to function
networks. These will vary in the extent that they are designed to be
centrally managed ( /coordinated / facilitated) or not.
is a network? (return to Contents)
A network is a collection of people and
things that are connected to each other by some kind of relationship.
Many kinds of entities can be part of a network: people, projects,
documents, events, organisations, cities, countries, etc. And there are
many kinds of relationships that can link such entities, involving
transmission or exchange of information, money, goods, affection,
influence, infection, etc.
A network does not need to be labelled or formally named as a
network to be a network. Such networks are part of a much
larger set of
networks, some of which may be recognised as de facto or
informal networks, and many others may not be.
Note: Because this
webpage is concerned with the use of network models for planning and
evaluation purposes the focus will be on networks of actors,
objects and events that are observable.
That can be interviewed or that can be read, or that can be read about.
So network models of abstract processes will not be discussed here.
(PS: Here is an example of a
network of abstract processes that was part of the ToR for an
evaluation of a complex "project" (multi-donor budget support). The
challenge with this network would be to establish linkages between
events which, as
described in this example, are themselves not readily observable)
analysis is the analysis of the structure of
relationships within a network. Social
Network Analysis (SNA) is especially relevant to the
development of network models of development aid programs, because
development aid is about people and their institutions. It is the main
intellectual influence on the contents of this webpage. Network
analysis is also done of biological systems, physical systems and
economies, but those usages are not discussed here.
Examples of networks that can be seen in development projects (return to Contents)
See section 12 below for a wider range of examples of network models
- A network of international donors
supporting various NGOs within a particular country
- A network of NGOs within
country, who have contact with each other, work with each other and who
may also compete with each other
- Within an NGO, a network of staff,
who are connected formally and informally
- Within an NGO, a network of activities
which form different kinds of business processes, that generate
different types of services. Such as workshops, training events and
network of donors and NGOs linked by common
policy concerns, such as specific objectives within the national
poverty reduction strategy
- A network
of policy documents, linked by over-lapping sets
of indicators of achievement.
Network models and the
Framework (return to Contents)
A Logical Framework
is kind of temporal
logic model, that describes development projects in
terms of a chain of "if we do this...and this ...assumption holds, then
this ....will happen, and if this happens..." statements
There are two reasons for looking at the
relationship between temporal logic models and network models.
Firstly, for readers who are more familiar with the use of the Logical
Framework as a means of describing a project, it may be useful to use
the Logical Framework as a starting point for developing a simple
example network model, which can then be elaborated into more
detail. Secondly, inter-operability.
There are many circumstances where a Logical Framework description
of a project will be required by donors and or senior management, and
many situations where Logical Framework descriptions are not sufficient
to capture and help manage the complexity of a project. It should
therefore be possible to convert a Logical Framework
description of project into a Network Model of a project, and convert
a Network Model of a project into a Logical Framework description of
As argued on the Logical
Framework page on this website, a Logical Framework
description of a development project can be improved upon by making it
"actor oriented". That is, by clearly identifying who is involved at
each level of the Logical Framework's description of a project. Then by
identifying how these actors are expected to interact with each other.
Doing this makes it easier for everyone to understand the overall
should be connecting Activities to Outputs to Purpose to Goal. Doing
this also helps make it possible to develop a network model of the same
project design, as will be shown further below.
Here is a very simple actor-oriented
interpretation of a
Logical Framework, representing an imaginary development project that
can be made more complex, and realistic, later on. Read from the bottom
of the table upwards.
||And how they relate to the levels
of a Logical Framework
interact with the VDCs, and this leads to changes in their lives, in
the longer term. (Goal level outcomes / impact)
Development Committees (VDCs)
the goods or services provided by the NGO (Outputs) and this
results in medium term changes (Purpose level outcomes)
||Undertake various Activities, some of which
generate some Outputs:
goods and services that are usable by the VDCs
to the NGO (these are
sometimes listed in OVI column next to Activities)
In the Logical Framework the Assumptions column
an important role to play, especially at the Output and Purpose level.
Assumptions, statements here usually relate to external influences that
the linkage between events at Output and Purpose level, and between the
Purpose and Goal level. While often described as abstract processes ,
it is possible and useful to describe these Assumptions in more
actor-oriented terms, by identifying specific organisations, groups or
individuals who could have a positive or negative influence on the
actors in the main narrative column (as in the table above). Doing so
brings us a further step closer to a network view of development
projects. See more on this below...
Temporal logic models, such as the Logical Framework, vary in the
number of levels or stages they have within their model. While the
Logical Framework has four, there is no reason why an actor oriented
interpretation of the Logical Framework could not have more, if the
chain of actors linking the project managers with the final intended
beneficiaries was longer.
[For more on
more actor-oriented Logical Frameworks, see comments
on the Logical Framework]
complimentary ways of representing networks: diagrams and matrices (return to Contents)
In Social Network Analysis (SNA) a network can be represented in matrix form and in
the form of a network
diagram. A network diagram can be converted into
a matrix, and vice versa. The network diagram and network matrix shown
below both represent the relationships between the actors involved in
the table above. Note that the convention with such matrices is that
the cell entries always show the relationship that exist from the row actor to the column
actor. In this example the relationships between all the actors in the
network are two way, so the matrix is symmetrical. But this will not be
the case if the focus is on funding relationships or on influence
processes, for example (see more on this below).
Network diagrams are good for providing a overview of what is
happening. Network matrices are good for providing detail that can be
systematically analysed. More on this below.
|7. Three ways to develop network
models (return to Contents)
- Top-down: Start with
broad categories of actors and map out the expected linkages between
them. Then break these categories down into smaller categories of
actors. Then map
the relationships between them, and with others. This can be done using
network diagrams to start with, or by matrices
model shown above is
clearly a very simple view of a
development project. It is a useful starting point, but needs more
detail if it is to be of operational use for planning and evaluation
Looking at each of the cells in the matrix above, it is easy to see
that each cell could be developed into a matrix of its own.
cell showing the linkage
between the NGO and the VDCs could be developed into a new more
where the left column listed the NGO Community Development Workers
(CDW) and the top row listed the various VDCs the NGO was working with.
The cell values could indicate the
percentage of time each CDW expected to spend working with each VDC.
Many of the CDWs might be expected to work with multiple
villages, but addressing different development tasks.
B. The cell showing the NGO linked to the NGO could be
developed into a new more detailed matrix, where the left column and
the top row both listed
the NGO staff (CDWs and other staff). Cell
values could describe the relationships between all the staff.
Cell values could code types of working relationships, or percentages
of the row actor's time that will be spent working with each other
Not all the relationships in the original matrix above would need to be
expanded in detail, in this way. Such a process would be time consuming
and unnecessary. The choice of which cells to expand into new more
detailed matrices should be a
strategic choice, reflecting a sense of what are the most
important relationships within the whole model, which need more
detailed planning and description.
matrix that is used to represent a
of more detailed matrices, has been called a "meta-matrix" by Krackhardt
and Carley, 1998 This was in the context of
developing quite complex computerised models of organisational
processes, which are not relevant to task being addressed here by this
webpage. The most immediate use of a meta-matrix is as a
means of developing a simple network model of a development
project to start with, then deciding where to selectively develop the
model in more detail.
also possible to scale up as well as down, using
the same technique, and place the project in a wider context. The
network matrix shown above could be seen as one cell in a larger
matrix, such as one showing a range of projects in a given country and
their interactions with each other. Use this way,a meta-matrix can
visible set of links between network models developed at different
scales and locations. Contra the Logical Framework, network models are
- Over time:
Start with the actors who will be involved at the beginning, and map
out the expected relationships between them. Then add in the new actors
will get involved, each x period of time. And map the relationships
they will have with the existing actors. There are two options here, to
develop: (a) A cumulative
model, that shows all actors and
that have existed up to the final period of concern, (b) A consecutive
model, in the
form of a series of "slides", showing pictures of the network
different points in time. This could require change or removal of old
relationships and actors, as well as addition of new actors and
Document the relationships that exist at this moment according to
whatever data is
available. Then ask the participants (a) How this network structure
relates to their original plan, of what they
intended to see happen when they first got involved, (b) How well does
the network structure represent what is actually happening and the
moment, (c) How they
expect this network structure to change by the end of x period.
Make sure they can
comment not only the structure of the relationships that are mapped,
but on alternative types of relationships (not shown in the network
diagram) that might be more important to them, and which should be
mapped. Many of the example networks shown in section 12
below have been opportunistically developed.
relationships within a network matrix or network diagram (return to Contents)
The matrix that has been shown above has a very simple
the relationships involved. It simply states whether a relationship
exists or not, not more. For the purpose of project planning and
evaluation a more detailed description would be needed. In Social
Network Analysis cells in a matrix can be used to describe many aspects
of a relationship: Described by using a 1
or 0 in a matrix (as above), or the presence or absence of a link in a
of relationship: Described by using
numbers, such as 1, 2, 3,... to indicate the presence of different
types of relationships that have been pre-coded.
of interaction: Described by using
numbers to indicate frequency per period or in total. Or by indicating
the relative proportion of an actor's time spent on each relationship.
of the relationship: Described by
using numbers to signify a rating or ranking of the relative value of
of the relationships: Described by using
numbers (e.g. 1, 2, 3) to representing a sequence of events over time,
or dates representing actual times
of a relationship: In small matrices the
cells can contain text descriptions of the relationship
can be shown in network diagrams by colour and size coding the links
between the actors
what aspects of a relationship to map is a strategic choice, of one
amongts many, that needs to be informed by a theory, or view, of what
important in the network being modeled
and Parker (2004)
have focused on information flows within organisations, and how to
inquire about them. Consistent with
the thrust of this webpage, they have commented that "We think that one
trend in network analysis will be towards mapping different,
theoretically important dimensions of relationships". Some
candidate dimensions of relationships they have suggested need
do people contact for task
purposes - people who provide information , resources or
diretcion that helps us get work done
do people contact for career
development (learning) - people who give feedback that is
helpful for our career development
Who do people contact for career
support (political support) - people in influential
positions who are advocates and provide political support
contact for sense
people who help make sense of
rumours, events, or gossip
contact for personal
people who help us cope with and recover from troubling situations at
work or personal dilemmas.
Who do people
contact for purpose - people who make use feel that
what we do at work matters, that our work has meaning
9. Using one
and two mode networks
There are two main kinds of matrices that can be
(symmetric or adjacency)
matrices: For example a matrix showing how 10 NGOs were
related to each other. The same list of NGOs would be shown down the
left column of a matrix, and across the top row. The matrix shown above
is a one-mode matrix. The same set of actors are shown in the top row
and left column. The matrix shown in section 6 above is a one-mode
(asymmmetric or affiliation)
For example, a matrix showing which of the 20 objectives in a
government poverty reduction strategy that each of the 10 NGOs was
addressing through its research and advocacy work. Here the NGOs would
be shown down the left column of a matrix, and the policy objectives
would be shown across the top row. Each cell could contain a number
signifying the relative importance of a given policy objective to a
given NGO. Two-mode networks can be more interesting, and
as development interventions, because participants' knowledge of the
whole network is usually less complete than in one-mode networks.
Constructing and then then sharing the network model can be a
development intervention in itself.
Within the matrix version of the Logical Framework
section 6 above, we can see a number of potential one-mode and
two-mode matrices. The cells in the diagonal (upper left to
bottom right) show relationships between the same kinds of actors
(NGOs with NGOs, Donors with Donors, VDCs with VDCs, etc). As noted
above, each of these could be developed into a matrix of its own. These
would be one mode-matrices, because the same actors are listed on both
sides of the matrix. All the other individual cells could also be
developed into matrices, but these would be two-mode matrices, because
the actors on the side of the matrix would be different from those
listed across the top.
is a term to describe where two actors might have multiple kinds of
relationships with each other. For example, in aid agencies people will
through formal organisational structures, and informal through
friendship and other ties. Multiplex relationships can be shown in two
mode matrix format, that has a one-actor x multiple-other-actors
structure. Each row will then show a particular kind of relationship
that actor has with all the other actors. For example, an NGO may
produce many kinds of information products, for a range of other
organisations. The left column could list those products, and the top
row could list the organisations using them, or expected to use them.
Cell entries in each row could indicate whether a given actor uses, or
is excpected to use a given product. Multiplex relationships
also be shown in network diagrams by color coding different types of
Summarising the data available within a network matrix (return to Contents)
There is a third strand of network analysis,
addiiton to matrices and diagrams. These are mathematical measures of
the structure of networks. Many are far too complex to be of day to day
use in the development of network models of development
projects. There are however some simple measures which can be
useful, and which are outlined here.
summary rows and columns A matrix full of
numbers can be daunting, especially
a large matrix with many actors. How do you make sense of all that
data? One simple way forward is to make use of a summary row
(at the bottom), and a summary column (to the right). Here
below is another version of the matrix already shown above. The cells
in the summary column count the number of links each row actor has with
all the column actors. The cells in the summary row count the number of
links each column actor has from all the row actors.
PS: Because each relationship in this matrix is a two-way relationship,
the row and column totals are the same. But if the matrix described
funding relationships between the actors (a one way relationship) this
would not be the case.
2. The same matrix could include valued relationships with each cell,
describing the relative importance of the column actor to the row
actor. In this case we can use two types of summary rows. These are
shown in the matrix below. 1 = highest priority, 5 = lowest.
Here the links to the VDC are the most important links , and
the links to the Others (Output Assumptions) are the least important.
Remember that in this example, low rank numbers = high importance.
In network diagram versions of the same matrix, it would be common to
show the relative importance of the different links, by varying the
thickness of lines signifying a link. And the size of the node
representing each actor could vary according to the number of links it
has with others.
actor attributes, to weight the importance of relationships
We can make the picture more detailed (and more realistic), by
introducing another category of information into the picture. So far
all the data inside the matrix describe the relationships
between the actors involved. This is the traditional focus of social
network analysis. However, we can also introduce some data
about the attributes
of each of the actors involved. These attributes could be the
size of the group (organisation staff or group members), the resources
they have available, their relative status or importance,
to become involved in a project, or any other measure relevant to the
expected success of the project. These attributes may make a
big difference to what happens within a given relationship (as
specified within the matrix).
The matrix below includes some imaginary attributes of each of the
actors, on the far left. The cells combine these with the relationship
values taken from the matrix above. The second summary row
then shows the combined "effects" of these weighted
relationships on each column actor.
The introduction of weightings has changed the picture, with the
linkages to "Other Villagers" now having the highest average
importance, compared to the linkages to the VDCs which were more
important previously. Again, remember that in this example,
low rank numbers = high importance, and vice versa!
relevance of including actor attributes in network models
In the Logical Framework, and other Logic Models, there is a causal
chain of expected events: Activities + Assumptions = Outputs, Outputs +
Assumptions = Purpose, Purpose + Assumptions = Goal.
In network models the equivalent is a process of expected influence in
the form of: Actor + Relationship + Actor +
Relationship + Actor... [but one involving multiple interacting actors,
not a simple linear sequence]
Giving actors numerically valued attributes, and combining them with
relationship values, allows us to convert this text description into a
quantified description. If the same actors are also shown in other
matrices, with links to other actors, the effects of their complex
interactions can be traced over longer distances.
In the simple example above, the actor attributes were judgements about
their relative importance. Other significant attributes could be their
size (in staff or budget), if they are organisations.
Analysing the structure of simple networks (return to Contents)
There are a number of measures of network structure that have been
developed within the field of Social Network Analysis that may be
helpful when analysing the network structure of development projects.
Some of these relate to the position of individuals in a network, and
some relate to the structure of the network as a whole. Some of these
can be directly observed in network diagrams, others can be identified
using social network analysis software described further below.
position of individuals within networks
There are different ways of describing how central an actor
is in a network, and being central may be a good or a bad thing.
A simple measure of centrality is called Degree Centrality
This is the number of links an actor has with other actors. In the
matrix above, the VDC has the highest Degree Centrality (4) and
the Donor has the lowest (1).
There are two kinds of degree centrality: In-Degree and Out-Degree. These
are shown in the summary row (# of links in to an actor) and
in the summary column (# of links out
from an actor), respectively. These measures are easy to
calculate, and can be shown in summary rows under a matrix (using the
Count function). They can be very important where the network
represents (expected or actual) influence
relationships. An actor that influences many others is likely to be
seen as powerful. On the other hand, an actor that is influenced by
many other actors, is likely to be seen as much less so. Most
actors in networks will have varying combinations of In-Degree and
Out-Degree centrality. The same measure is also relevant when
looking at networks of project activities, and their immediate effects
on peoples' lives. Project activities that influence many other
activities may need careful planning. Changes in peoples lives that are
influenced by many project activities will warrant more intensive
Related to In-Degree and Out-Degree is the extent to which links between
actors are reciprocated. This is important to attend to
when information on linkages is collected from the actors themselves.
One actor may say they are working with another, but that second actor
may not report working with the first. This may be a simple measurement
error or it may be symptomatic of the relative status of the two
actors, with the lower status actor wanting to report a relationship
with a higher status actor, but not vice-versa. In some
circumstances it may be worth analysing the extent to which each actors
outgoing links are reciprocated by incoming links
Centrality: An actor might not have many connections with
others (i.e. low Degree Centrality), but those they have might still be
very important. Betweenness Centrality describes the extent
to which an actor is situated between two groups, and is a
necessary route between those groups. Such people can act as
mediators between those two groups, or they can become unintentional
bottlenecks, or they can be deliberate obstacles to communications
between those two groups. Which of these roles they take on
will, in part at least, depend on their relative power and status,
compared to the two groups they are linking. It is not easy to show
Betweenness Centrality in a summary columnn of a network matrix.
However, in relatively small and /or simple networks it is often
possible to identify which actors have high Betweenesss Centrality by
looking at network diagrams. In the network diagram in section 5 above
the Village development Committee has the highest Betweeness
Centrality. For larger and more complex networks,
social network analysis software can be used to identify Betweenness
Centrality, and many other measures, for all the actors involved. Actors
with high Betweeness Centrality clearly have the potential to have a
major influence on what happens in a development project, and therefore
need to be identified and monitored.
is a measure of the average distance between an actor and all
other actors in the network. These actors are likely to be most "in the
know" about what is happening. Finding these actors and making use of
them through M&E activities would make sense.
These are the converse of the above. They may have few
connections with other actors, not in any key brokerage roles, and at a
higher average distance to others. But they are worth knowing about.
They may be more independent minded, because they are not
part of a group which has self-reinforcing beliefs. They may have links
with other networks, which take up more of their time, but which could
provide useful new knowedge and resources to the network being
analysed. Or they may be truly marginal, unconnected to other
networks, and at risk of neglect by the actors within the project
Note: It is
important to remember a general point: that all network models are incomplete.
Many if not all the actors in the network of concern will have
connections with others outside the network. And even within
this network, there will be multiple other kinds of
relationships between the actors. A network model will always
be a purposeful simplification of reality.
more actors who have the same structure of relationships with other
actors are described as being "structurally equivalent". For example,
northern donor NGOs may have relationships with
a very smilar set of recipient southern NGOs. In this setting two
different questions could be asked. Firstly, in what way can each
northern NGO be differentiated from the other, when
they are funding the same set of southern NGOs? This is all about
differentiating roles, and identifying niches. For example, one might
focus more on
funding support, and the other on technical support.
these northern NGOs work together to maximise the value of
their support to their common southern NGOs. This is all about
coordination and harmonisation.
Kite network example
Node 7 has the highest Degree Centrality
Node 8 has the highest Betweenness Centrality
Nodes 4 and 5 have the highest Closeness Centrality
Node 10 is the most peripheral, having the least connections of all
Nodes 4 and 5 are "structurally equivalent"
structure of networks
This is a measure of how inter-connected a network is. A
network where all the actors are connected to all the other actors is
said to have a density of 1.0 This is the maximum possible. In the
example matrix in section 5 above, that network has a density of
0.55 (that is, there are 20 of the 36 possible links).
Such calculations can be easily built into spreadsheet
versions of network matrices.
As with other measures above, network density may be good or bad. A
high density network will be less vulnerable to the breakdown of any of
the links between the actors, but this will be at a cost. All the
actors will be having to manage multiple relationships, and they may
not do this as well as they might if managing a smaller number. Within
highly hierarchical organisations the density of formal linkages will
be quite low, but in organisations using ad hoc teams or a form of
matrix management, density with be relatively high.
When developing network models of development projects it is important
not to design networks that are too dense. If everything seems to be
connected to everything else, then it is hard to see what are the
important linkages that are central to the project design. There are
two ways around this problem. One is to omit the least important
linkages, as has been done in the matrix above. The other is to put a
value on the relative importance of each linkage, so it is possible to
selectively focus in on the most important linkages. Doing both is even
Many networks will display some form of clustering, a cluster being a
groups of actors with many inter-connections between each other, but
few with others. It is sometimes possible to see clusters in network
matrices, if the contents have been sorted by row and column
beforehand. And by visual inspection of network diagrams. But with
larger / more complex networks it is helpful to use statistical
functions in social network analysis software, to identify clusters at
different scales of connectedness, and the overall degree of
The identification of clusters in development projects is important.
This aspect of a network structure is likely influence the flow of
information of concern to a project. Information will normally flow
better within clusters than between clusters. And conversely,
relative availability of information of concern to a project, from what
be different groups actors, may tell us about the overall structure of
The significance of all the measures of network position and structure
introduced above has to be interpreted in the light of the intentions of the
actors involved. Either of the person who has developed a network model
as a plan. Or, the actors in the network, if the network has been
developed as a description of current relationships. None of
the network attributes introduced above are by definition good, or bad.
about types of network processes (return to Contents)
a technical paper) has made some useful distinctions about
types of processes that can taken place within networks, according to:
things move within any relationship:
replication (like information), or transfer (like physical
- And if by replication: serially (in
discussions) or in parallel (like email, or public announcements)
things move through networks of relationships
are useful distinctions, because they have consequences for how we
interpret the significance of a particular network structure.
Things that can spread by parrallel replication that can
retrace their steps are likely to be least constrained by network
structure. And vice versa, things that have to be moved, and
which cant retrace their steps, will be most constrained by network
structure. Humanitarian emergencies are more likely to involve
movement of physical goods than development programs, and in this
respect more likely to to be constrained by network structure. But the
introduction of cash grants to victims of disasters can be one way
around those constraints.
- One way only, never retracing its
example, used goods, gossip and diseases (where immunity can be aquired)
In development projects it may be more useful to think about different
kinds of information flow, and how they are affected by network
being information that can only flow from person to person (serially).
The content of "private" information that a person can report be more
symptomatic of their position in a network than public
information, which can spread in by more mass means.
information is less constrained. Allowing information to
be put in the public domain is one way of empowering people, because
they will no longer be as dependent on network structures for access to
Spread not through one-off contacts, but through repeated contacts. As
such they may be symptomatic of the duration or strength of
relationships. Or the absence of contacts, if we know they are
Like other types of information, news can be replicated and spread in
parallel. But it may move through some parts of a network faster than
other parts. Where news first becomes available may be
symptomatic of the structure of the sorrounding network.
Is partly like information and partly like a good. It can be replicated
(digitally) but under strict constraints (conservation of quantity). It
can be split (to a finite degree) and re-combined as it is
transferred through networks of actors. Budgets are means to capture
what is received from whom and what is passed on to whom. But the idea
of "fungibility" captures the idea that we cannot trace what happens to
individual units of money, when they are received by one actor from
different sources, and then sent off to different receipients. Budget
transparency is all about making the pathways that money follows more
visible. That requires readable budgets, but also budgets that have
visible onward connections, to people (or organisations), their
activities and objectives.
"....when one takes into account timing of
the flow of things through a
network, ones perspective on key structural features of the network
fundamentally changes. For example, the most central node in a network,
e.g., as measured by betweenness, can look peripheral if one takes into
account the timing of flow. If the most central node gets information
slowly, information will flow around that node. A dynamic picture of
flow in a network thus can produce a fundamentally different
understanding of the structure of the network than a static picture. (I
should note that a dynamic picture does not mean necessarily that the
network is changing—just that there may be a natural sequence
communication, which may be a long standing structural feature of the
network. That is, there is a difference between saying that networks
are dynamic and that networks evolve over time.)"
David Lazer, on the Complexity
and Social Networks Blog, 1st May 2006,
refering to a point made by Jim Moody of Duke University.
Analysed examples of developed network models (return
of the examples here are not network models of project intentions
that have been deliberately developed by project managers or designers.
are network representations of aspects of development
projects, developed opportunistically, when useful data became
available. As such it is useful to ask two types of questions about
(a) To what
extent are events actually happening as
implied by these network models?
(b) To what extent to these models represent what was expected to
Please note that the example page links are still being developed.
Links in bold
are now active. The list of examples is not in an especially meaningful
objectives and organisational structure
. Three examples are
units within organisations and how they are linked to each other by
strategic objectives (or not). Tow questions: 1. Does this
reflect how strategic objectives are meant to relate to each
other? 2. Does information flow between these linked sections
because they are talking about their shared
Budgets and their relationships to project activities
structure of budget categories and sub-categories usually has its own
history, independent and predating the planning of activities in a new
project. There are also often real constraints on what changes can be
made to budget categories to make them have a better "fit" with
categories used to describe proposed activities in a new project. The
alternative is to construct a budget lines x project activities (or
outputs) matrix. That is, a network model of how these two sets of
entities are expected to relate. One benefit is that the total cost of
each output becomes visible, through the use of summary rows (as
strategies and actual practice
interaction of communications products with audiences, and
audiences with each other
An organisation may produce multiple types of communications
products. These will be expected to be used by by different
in different combinations. These audiences may be expected to
subsequently interact with each other, in varying ways. These
relationships can be shown
in a series of linked matrices (products x audiences, audiences x
organisation may also have plans for
how to engage their audiences with some communications products
initially, then with
other products later on. A network
can developed to show how
users will be expected to move from one product to another. Actual use
of those products can then be monitored to see what is
happen, and how it fits with initial plans.
participants and events
. An NGO organises a series
of workshops, over a period of years. Quite a few people attend a
number of these workshops. They are potentially
connected by their co-participation. Overlaps in groups of participants
can be intentional as well as fortuitious. Creating and reinforcing
relationships may be an important outcome of the workshop series, as
well as the more fleeting exchange of information during a particular
workshop. New section
A research funding mechanism in Vietnam has organised a series of
workshops to publicise its partners' research findings. These events
are linked by co-participants. A series of useful questions can be
asked about the structure of the network that results.
*A research funder
and its network of grantees
(PETRRA in Bangladesh). This is a network of contractual relationships
between five different types of organisations within Bangladesh and
beyond. Interesting questions can be asked about the
project's original intentions and how its longer term impact could be
assessed. It is also possible to develop two levels of models, a simple
one showing relationships between types
of organisations, and a more
detailed model showing relationships between specific organisations
that belong to these types.
NGOs and their multiple northern donors
A survey of Bangladeshi NGOs in 1992 showed that they were connected to
each other via an overlapping set of funding relationships with
northern donors. This was not a planned development, though there may
have been local coordination activity amongst some donors. It
clear that some donors have very similar
sets of linkages
with NGOs, which raises two questions. (a) What sort of differences
exist between them, that could justify their separate existence, but
shared relationships with NGOs? (i.e.
what is their niche?), (b) How can they cooperate, to maximise the
value of their support, and minimise the costs to NGOs of having to
deal with two separate donors?
funded NGOs have with others
G-Rap has provided core funding for 12 Ghanaian NGOs, all of
are engaged in some form of research and advocacy activities. They have
some working relationships with each other, and with others. Some these
other relationships they share, and some are unique to each NGO. These
relationships include other NGOs, community based organisations,
central and local government bodies, donors, and others. This complex
network can be analysed using the idea of social capital as involving
bonding and bridging capital. The former is all abou the
of links between the funded RAOs. The second is all about the unique
connections each NGO has with other parties, which might be valued by
the other NGOs.
*Networks of organisations and
. Research projects can
by the overlapping participation of different institutions. These
provide potential channels whereby ideas and practices from one
organisation may influence another. As a network they provide a number
of potential impact pathways that might be realised in the relatively
short term, versus the impact on a wider range of more distantly
connected organisations. Which of these pathways is most desirable, and
which is most likely to be realised?
arising via shared objectives
*INGO networks in Vietnam
International NGOs can be potentially linked together by working in the
same locations, or in the same sector. The VUFO-
NGO Resource Centre
in Vietnam produces an Annual INGO Directory. The Directory
includes two extensive cross-tabulations, showing which INGOs are
working in which provinces and in which sectors. These can be used to
generate two-mode networks.
networks of projects linked to global program objectives
The CIAT Water and
Food Challenge Program has 33+ projects, in 15 river basins, in
countries, on three continents, with more than x participating
institutions. Where is the structure and coherence? Is the
structure we can see what was intended? And what are the expected
consequences of this structure? Where should information and influence
of donors and policy objectives
: A network
perspective on donor
harmonisation in Ghana, in the form of a matrix showing what
donors will be providing funding support to what Growth and Poverty
Reduction Strategy policy objectives. Qustions can be asked
about who needs to be talking to whom, about what?
And if you are an NGO wanting to do advocacy work on poverty related
policies, what are the implications for who you work with?
of influence over time: Fisheries research in
. Research projects can influence multiple other
research projects, in the short term and in the longer term. The
result: a complex genealogy, a network spreading through time
rather than a simple branching family tree. Who seems to have been the
most influential over the longer term may be relevant to analysis of
the long term impact of the research funding mechanism.
Development policy documents often include lists of
indicators, and overlaps between these indicators can sometimes be
easily identified. The 2003 M&E Plan for the Ghanaian Poverty
Reduction Strategy included a table showing which indicators were being
used on three related policy documents (HIPC, GPRS, MDG). Treated as a
two-mode matrix the results can be converted to a network diagram which
readily shows in some detail how the policy documents are related.
be linked by common themes
and sometimes researchers are paid to identify these themes and their
prevalence. This was done by Brocklesby and
report on "Why
Local Drivers of
Change Matter: Reviewing "Local" in DFID Drivers of Change Studies
(2005). A network analysis of the results can highlight connections
that were not given attention in the text description.
Many large projects
have multiple objectives. Many of these objectives can be expected to
feed into each other, with the achievements of one contributing to the
achievement of another, or multiple other objectives. This
means there will not be a simple one-to-one correspondence between the
amount invested in an objective and the degree of its achievement. Some
objectives may require additional investment, others less than
expected. The network of causal linkages will also have implications
for where M&E efforts should be concentrated.