Understanding shifting dynamics of power in state governments through social networks

Kevin D. Mentzer, Anne L. Washington

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


We use social network analysis to better understand historic data on the administration of local governments. Despite advances in e-government applications, the public sector lags behind in analytics because information is locked in legacy data formats. Can e-government researchers bridge the gap between legacy data and analytics? We argue that computational analytic methods, popular in big data applications, can explain patterns that have gone unquestioned in previous research on government. Specifically, we consider how explanations of state government authority can be explained using a network perspective. These data were originally designed to describe administrative differences US territories and states. We investigate methodological challenges in building a weighted social network to confirm existing measures for calculating the power of the state governor. This project reports on the initial step in a broader study to cover all 50 states across multiple years and agencies. We compare the states that experienced the greatest differences in gubernatorial appointment power between 1992 and 2012 Texas and Massachusetts. In addition, we identified that Information Systems agencies moved closer to gubernatorial control across all 50 states. Social network analysis improves existing measurements because it indicates the relationship between the governor and other top officials and agencies. An analytics approach explained where the power shifted across states and across time. Computational analysis of existing government data matches findings from previous studies as well as adding additional explanatory power.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2015 Americas Conference on Information Systems, AMCIS 2015
PublisherAmericas Conference on Information Systems
ISBN (Electronic)9780996683104
StatePublished - 2015
Event21st Americas Conference on Information Systems, AMCIS 2015 - Fajardo, Puerto Rico
Duration: Aug 13 2015Aug 15 2015

Publication series

Name2015 Americas Conference on Information Systems, AMCIS 2015


Other21st Americas Conference on Information Systems, AMCIS 2015
Country/TerritoryPuerto Rico


  • E-government
  • Gubernatorial power
  • Social network analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Information Systems


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