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Inter-organizational network analysis: A systems approach to health research & practice. Center for Tobacco Policy Research Saint Louis University School of Public Health Douglas Luke, PhD Jenine Harris, MA .

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Inter organizational network analysis a systems approach to health research practice l.jpg

Inter-organizational network analysis: A systems approach to health research & practice

Center for Tobacco Policy Research

Saint Louis University

School of Public Health

Douglas Luke, PhD

Jenine Harris, MA

Slide2 l.jpg

Context dependency of health behavior l.jpg
Context dependency of health behavior of philosophic thinking goes back to neglect of context.

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From systems theory to health promotion via organizational networks

  • Society must be reconceptualized as a complex network of groups of interacting individuals whose membership and communication patterns are seldom confined to one such group alone.

    • —Diana Crane, Invisible Colleges (1972)

  • Health promotion activities (such as tobacco control) can be seen as a complex network of individuals, groups, and organizations.

  • Network analysis is a tool that connects systems theory to health promotion.

  • Definition l.jpg
    Definition networks

    • An inter-organizational network is a social structure that connects a collective: group, community, agency, organization, etc.

    • The connection can be of many types: communication, transmission, affiliation.

    • The connection can be about many things: money, knowledge, relationship, influence.

    Katrina failure of inter organizational networks l.jpg
    Katrina – Failure of inter-organizational networks networks

    • Inability to communicate between first responders from different agencies

    • Conflicts and poor communication between levels of government (federal, state, local)

    • Difficulty integrating private aid and voluntary efforts into official Katrina response

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    Three examples networks

    • Identifying the core tobacco control program ‘blueprint’

    • Charting how inter-organizational networks change in response to challenging fiscal and political conditions

    • Mapping federal tobacco control leadership to aid in strategic planning

    Example 1 identifying tc organizational blueprint l.jpg
    Example 1 – Identifying TC organizational blueprint networks

    • Use network analysis to examine communication, partnership networks to identify commonalities, differences

    • Use a technique called block-modeling to identify and present common underlying inter-organizational patterns

    • Examine fit of individual states to the general blueprint

    Contact network l.jpg
    Contact Network networks

    Integration network l.jpg

    Cooperation networks


    Not Linked




    Fully linked or integrated

    Integration Network

    Not linked or integrated at all- We do not work together at all and have separate program goals.

    Communication- We share information only when it is advantageous to either or both programs.

    Cooperation- We share information and work together when any opportunity arises.

    Coordination- We work side-by-side as separate organizations to achieve common program goals.(e.g., efforts are coordinated to prevent overlap but perform our tasks as separate organizations)

    Collaboration- We work side-by side and actively pursue opportunities to work together as an informal team. (e.g., attempt to find ways to work together but do not establish a formal agreement or contract- “in the spirit of collaboration”)

    Partnership- We work together as a formal team with specified responsibilities to achieve common program goals. (e.g., have formally identified common goals and areas of responsibility for each organization, usually outlined in a Memorandum of Understandingor other type of agreement)

    Fully linked or integrated- We mutually plan, share staff and/or funding resources and evaluate activities to accomplish our common goals.

    Based on the continuum below, please choose the response that best describes the current relationship between your agency and…

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    Florida & Oregon Contact networks

    Florida 2004

    Oregon 2004

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    Example 2 – Charting inter-organizational network changes general blueprint

    • What happens to TC networks when funding is cut, or political support changes?

    • Collect organizational network data at multiple timepoints

    • Examine how changes may be in response to external conditions

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    Indiana general blueprint























    $850M State Budget Deficit

    $33.8M Tobacco Control Funding

    $595M State Budget Deficit

    $300M State Budget Deficit

    $18.2M Tobacco Control Funding

    $12.4M Tobacco Control Funding

    Indiana 2003 l.jpg

    FY03 general blueprint







    Indiana 2003

    Indiana 2004 l.jpg

    FY04 general blueprint








    Indiana 2004

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    FY05 general blueprint







    Indiana 2005

    Example 3 mapping the us dhhs tobacco control leadership l.jpg
    Example 3 - Mapping the US DHHS tobacco control leadership general blueprint

    The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is responsible for planning, guiding, and funding much of the tobacco control and research activity in the US. The activities are carried out within various DHHS agencies.

    The aim of this Project was to create a map of the tobacco control leadership within the US DHHS. Using social network analysis, we:

    • Identified the tobacco control leadership network within DHHS

    • Described five different relational networks within DHHS

    • Identified individuals who play unique or critical roles in the networks

    • Identified knowledge and communication gaps in the networks

    • Examined the characteristics of the networks

      A map of this sort is important to guide strategic planning for tobacco policy by identifying strengths and challenges related to intra- and inter- agency awareness, communication, and partnerships.

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    Participating Agencies general blueprint

    • Administration for Children and Families (ACF)

    • Agency for Healthcare Research Quality (AHRQ)

    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

    • Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)

    • Food & Drug Administration (FDA)

    • Health Resource and Services Administration (HRSA)

    • Indian Health Services (IHS)

    • National Institutes of Health (NIH)

    • National Cancer Institutes (NCI)

    • Office of the General Counsel (OGC)

    • Office of the Secretary (OS)

    • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

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    Methods and Survey Items general blueprint

    Respondents were asked to answer five questions about their colleagues and other DHHS agencies in tobacco control. The responses to these questions were used to develop five networks in five areas:

    • Awareness of tobacco work

    • Contact frequency

    • Formal partnerships

    • Individual influence

    • Agency importance

      We used a web-based survey to collect data; the response rate was 92.5% (50/54 respondents).

    Awareness network l.jpg
    Awareness Network general blueprint

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    Contact Network general blueprint

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    Collapsed Contact Network general blueprint

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    Inter & Intra Agency Contact general blueprint

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    What we found general blueprint

    • There is a high degree of awareness of tobacco work among individuals across all agencies in DHHS.

    • CDC, OS, and NCI play central roles in the tobacco leadership networks.

    • The network maps reveal communication and partnership gaps that might be addressed by future DHHS strategic planning.

    • This type of network analysis is a useful tool for revealing interorganizational capacity.

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    Why should you care? general blueprint

    • First steps in describing the structure of public health systems

    • System diagnostics – How to improve the system

    • System access – How to work with the system

    • Very useful tool for working with organizations, communities – The ‘Ideal Network’ exercise

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    Miscellany general blueprint

    • Funding for these projects was provided by NCI, CDC, the American Legacy Foundation, and the Chronic Disease Directors Association.

    • Copies of this presentation (and other associated works) are available at:

    • If you have further questions, contact me at [email protected]