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Internal network structures as opportunity structures: control and effectiveness in the European Competition Network.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Francesca Pia Vantaggiato, Hussein Kassim, Kathryn Wright

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of European Public Policy
Accepted/In press23 Feb 2020

King's Authors


European Administrative Networks (EANs) are well-studied platforms of collaboration between national authorities. To understand EANs, the literature typically relies on few explanatory variables: network origins, objectives, and outputs. This external view of EANs leaves important questions unanswered, notably concerning power redistribution and regulators’ perception of EANs. This article highlights the importance of network internal structures as an explanatory variable for understanding EANs. We contend that internal structures are ‘opportunity structures’ for regulators to set agendas and share resources. We investigate the case of the European Competition Network (ECN) – a highly structured, hierarchical and formalised enforcement network – drawing on structured interviews with 15 National Competition Agencies (NCAs) carried out in 2014. We find that the ECN’s formal internal structures afford all NCAs access to the agenda, foster perceptions of effectiveness, and promote informal sharing of expertise outside the network. Future research should incorporate internal structures into analyses of administrative networks.

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