Relational contracting and network management

Anthony M. Bertelli, Craig R. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Our argument connects the management of relational contracts with the management of policy networks. Thinking about bilateral, horizontal extensions of governmental authority in a state of agents can be enhanced, we claim, because of the rich offerings of relational contracting theory. We review key results from economic theories of relational contracting, provide public sector examples, and present a set of testable propositions that suggest a rationale for the creation and expansion of policy networks through relational contracting and its management. Although adding theoretical leverage to research on public sector contracting, our approach provides one means of explaining the emergence of policy networks and implications for managing within them.One of the greatest barriers to improving the administration of public programs in an era of extensive contracted operations is the failure to understand the nature of the relationships that emerge in that process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)i21-i40
JournalJournal of Public Administration Research and Theory
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Jan 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Marketing


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