How Information Matters

Networks and Public Policy Innovation

Kathleen Hale

"Hale’s work demonstrates how public policy is institutionally linked by the functioning of public-nonprofit networks as they add value through information-oriented collaboration."
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How Information Matters examines the ways a network of state and local governments and nonprofit organizations can enhance the capacity for successful policy change by public administrators. Hale examines drug courts, programs that typify the highly networked, collaborative environment of public administrators today. These “special dockets” implement justice but also drug treatment, case management, drug testing, and incentive programs for non-violent offenders in lieu of jail time. In a study that spans more than two decades, Hale shows ways organizations within the network act to champion, challenge, and support policy innovations over time. Her description of interactions between courts, administrative agencies, and national organizations highlight the evolution of collaborative governance in the state and local arena, with vignettes that share specific experiences across six states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, and Tennessee) and ways that they acquired knowledge from the network to make decisions.

How Information Matters offers valuable insight into successful ways for collaboration and capacity building. It will be of special interest to public administrators or policymakers who wish to identify ways to improve their own programs’ performance.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Information Relationships and Innovation

1. Intergovernmental Relationships, Information, and Policy Change

2. From Information to Innovation: The Drug Court Experience

3. Network Relationships, Implementation, and Policy Success: A National Influence

4. Using Strategic Information to Build Programs: Templates, Mentors, and Research

5. Information and Systemic Change: New Professionals and New Institutions

6. Information, Synthesis, and Synergy: A National Nonprofit Information Network

7. Bringing Value to Public Decisions: Information Relationships, Tools, and Processes

Appendix: Methodology



"Hale’s work demonstrates how public policy is institutionally linked by the functioning of public-nonprofit networks as they add value through information-oriented collaboration."—Robert Agranoff, professor emeritus, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University-Bloomington

"Kathleen Hale has produced an excellent book that illustrates how nonprofit organizations and other nongovernmental institutions can serve as important sources for information, and how information networks can help to create innovative policy solutions and improve policy outcomes. This book is an important and timely addition to the fields of public administration and nonprofit management, and a must-read for those who want to learn more about responsive and successful policy changes."—Joanne Carman, assistant professor of political science, University of North Carolina, Charlotte

"Stripped to its core, the effectiveness of a network is determined by the way that information is transformed into action. This book provides a thoroughly researched, authoritative study of just how information is exchanged, synthesized, and ultimately diffused through a network to bring about policy change and innovation."—Michael McGuire, professor, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University

"This is a terrific book. It advances scientific efforts to explicate the art of policy formulation. More specifically, it improves our understanding of how networks serve as repositories of knowledge, power, and influence, and how motivated change agents effectively engage with those networks. The book will be of great relevance to policy scholars and practitioners alike. I found it a pleasure to read and reflect on."—Michael Mintrom, University of Auckland, New Zealand


Supplemental Materials


Winner of the 2012 Public and Nonprofit Division Best Book Award of the Academy of Management

About the Author

Kathleen Hale is an assistant professor of political science at Auburn University.

240 pp., 5.5 x 8.5
10 boxes, 15 figures, 18 tables
Mar 2011

240 pp., 5.5 x 8.5
10 boxes, 15 figures, 18 tables
ISBN: 978-1-58901-700-9
Mar 2011

240 pp.
10 boxes, 15 figures, 18 tables
ISBN: 978-1-58901-748-1
Mar 2011

Public Management and Change series
Beryl A. Radin, Series Editor

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