Networks & Government

The Reading: How networks can transform government and international relations

Most interesting points & a few thoughts:

“These new networks will not, in themselves, solve the problems of government today. But just as corporate leaders have moved from rigid, top-down hierarchies to more flexible structures that take better advantage of the capabilities of employees and better reflect the realities of the hyperconnected world, government is also under pressure to change.”

“When I looked closely at relations among liberal democracies, I saw that they had many more transgovernmental networks of government officials than their non-liberal counterparts.”

“Criminal organizations are all networks. That’s why they’re so hard to fight. Corporations are all generally operating through networks, both within corporations and in their supply chains. And certainly nongovernmental organizations are significantly networked.”

What does the role of hierarchy play in these networks? Not all nodes are created equal… not all nodes are from the same network?

“But the flip side is, when things go bad with a particular country, we can still have good relations with people there. For example, as the second Iraq war began, in 2003, the Americans were furious with the French and Germans. Yet I remember talking to the German minister of justice, who said that his ties with [then] Attorney General John Ashcroft had never been closer.”

There is this eerie recursiveness to networks, where we can like one iteration in the network, and be at war with a hub of those iterations— the hub is a sum of it’s parts– so how is it a “thing” separate from them?  This is why I tend to get very frustrated with government!

“Pursue those issues in the private sector, the government sector, and the nonprofit sector, with maybe 10 or 15 years in each sector. Only if you move among them do you meet the people and learn the culture of all three sectors. And only then can you bring all three groups together to work on these issues.”

She’s creating hubs by making the node transient- between distinct groups at distinct times— then suggests adding them together. Until I read this, I pictured nodes in a network as static, with the movement begin created by the appearance and disappearance of lines linking nodes over time. When picturing this network, my visualization in my head likens the nodes to magnets who move over time, and who automatously gather links when a certain distance from other nodes is achieved. — Somewhat of a fun visual enlightenment in my brain. 

“If you’re comfortable with letting your perspective evolve, then you can be much more effective leading a network.”

If we assume that every network has an optimal resonance- a pattern that sustains each node comfortably, than leadership means not rising to the top but creating an environment in which that resonance can be achieved. 

“In fact, it’s good for regulators, judges, and many other officials to be exposed to the rest of the world. But it’s easy to whip up popular sentiment against this. And one could imagine Congress saying to government officials, “You can’t talk to your foreign counterparts unless you report to us first.” That would cripple American ability to operate in a globalized world.”

It’s like idea generation– you don’t want to pollute ur mind with other ideas but u need to know what’s out there.


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