Flexibility within Network Organizations: A Case Study of the TEN-T and Three Seas Initiative
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Networks have become an important part of European regional integration particularly within the advancement of territorial cohesion through the development of infrastructure. Within the central European countries, within the European Union (EU), a relatively new network focused on infrastructure has emerged called the Three Seas Initiative (TSI). Within the EU there is another network with an infrastructure focus called the Trans-European Networks – Transport (TEN-T). These two networks have similar goals, to increase European infrastructural cohesion but have been structured differently with the TSI having no central organization to coordinate unlike the TEN-T which is coordinated by the EU Commission. Network governance theory argues that the structure of the network affects the traits of the network such as flexibility. Flexibility within infrastructure focused networks is an important trait to study due to the long-term nature of building infrastructure. Within this study the researcher applies network governance theory to a small-N case study of the TEN-T and the TSI comparing the two networks using co-variational analysis (COV). The independent variable that is studied is the existence of a network administrative organization (NAO) within the network. An NAO is present in the TEN-T and not present in the TSI which is classified as a participant-governed network. The dependent variable studied is the effect on flexibility. The hypothesis being that the existence of an NAO leads to lower flexibility within a network. The data was gathered using semi-structured interviews of ten civil servants from the TSI and the transcripts were analysed using thematic content analysis (TCA). The themes identified which indicate a high amount of flexibility are experimentation and confusion which was more prevalent in the TSI while themes indicating low flexibility are centralization and bureaucracy, these being more present in the TEN-T. In conclusion the study indicates that the TSI is more flexible than the TEN-T in response to the research question: How does the network organization of TSI and TEN-T affect their flexibility?