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07.05 Sustainable Collaborative Networks: Design, Dynamics, and Decay of Cooperation in a Multilevel Organizational Field

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Aim of the project

The project aims to describe and explain under which conditions the deliberate creation of collaborative networks fosters sustainable cooperation and value creation in a multilevel organizational field. Many contemporary industrialized societies attempt to face the challenges posed by population aging and other socio-economic pressures by substantial welfare-state reform, with large-scale administrative and political decentralization being a frequently used instrument. The success of such policies depends on the active participation of a growing numbers of multiple stakeholders, ranging from individuals (e.g. citizens, consumers, clients, professionals, patients etc.), to private, public and non-governmental organizations (suppliers, regulators, producers etc.). Many see collaborative networks as one of the most promising tools for sustainable value creation in such multilevel organizational fields. In a collaborative network, a heterogeneous set of autonomous organizations and individuals interact, often supported by Internet based tools, with the intention to achieve some common objective. However, as of yet, relatively little is known about the conditions under which such collaborative networks become sustainable, or decay. This project addresses this gap.

Research Design

Modeling the evolution of collaborative networks in a multilevel organizational field puts a heavy burden on the research design, since it requires the longitudinal collection of sociometric and attribute data at the level of both individuals and organizations.  The present project capitalizes on a unique opportunity to collect such data in 50 so-called interdisciplinary learning networks, to be established in the Northern part of the Netherlands as part of a government funded large-scale regional initiative pioneered by the ZON, a network organization specialized in bringing together both health care providers and health care educators to coordinate educational matters in their sector (


Lec. dr. Jelly Zuidersma

Netwerk ZON (50%)
Department of Sociology (50%)
University of Groningen



  • Discipline
  • Location
    University of Groningen, Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences, Department of Sociology
  • Period
    September 1, 2017 - April 18, 2024