Skip to main content Accessibility help

Brokering change: networks and entrepreneurs in international politics

  • Stacie E. Goddard (a1)

Political entrepreneurs reside at the core of international relations (IR) theory. Structures might constrain agents, but entrepreneurs can remake and transform these structures, contesting norms, shifting identities and creating space for significant political change. Despite this, IR theorists note that key questions about entrepreneurs remain under-theorized. Under what conditions are political entrepreneurs likely to emerge? Who is likely to succeed as an entrepreneur, and how do entrepreneurs produce structural change? I argue scholars could strengthen their answers to these questions by drawing from the growing program of social network theory. Networks influence entrepreneurship in three ways. First, networks provide certain actors – brokers – with resources to effect change. It is not an actor’s attributes or interests but her position, then, that enables entrepreneurial behavior. Second, networks create the conditions of entrepreneurship. While certain networks are extremely stable, others contain contradictions that allow entrepreneurs to emerge. Finally, network theory posits structural mechanisms – including mobilization, polarization, and yoking – to explain political change.

Corresponding author
Hide All
Abbot, A. (1996), ‘Things of boundaries’, Social Research 62: 857862.
Adamson, F.B. (2005), ‘Globalisation, transnational political mobilisation, and networks of violence’, Cambridge Journal of International Affairs 18(1): 3149.
Adler, E. (1992), ‘The emergence of cooperation: national epistemic communities and the international evolution of the idea of nuclear arms control’, International Organization 46(1): 101145.
Adler, E.Haas, P.M. (1992), ‘Conclusion: epistemic communities, world order, and the creation of a reflective research program’, International Organization 46(1): 367390.
Archer, M. (1989), Culture and Agency: The Place of Culture in Social Theory, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Ashley, R. (1986), ‘The poverty of neorealism’, in R.O. Keohane (ed.), Neorealism and Its Critics, New York, USA: Columbia University Press, 255300.
Baguley, D. (2000), Napoleon III and his Regime: An Extravaganza, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Press.
Barkin, J.S.Cronin, B. (1994), ‘The state and the nation: changing norms of sovereignty in international relations’, International Organization 48(1): 107130.
Barnett, M.N.Duvall, R. (2005), ‘Power in international relations’, International Organization 59: 3975.
Bearman, P. (1993), Relations into Rhetorics: Local Elite Structure in Norfolk, England, 1540–1640, New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Bourdieu, P. (1994), Language and Symbolic Power, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Bourdieu, P. (1990), Logic of Practice, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Breuilly, J. (1996), The Formation of the First German Nation-State, 1800–1871, Studies in European History, London, UK: Macmillan.
Bukovansky, M. (2002), Legitimacy and Power Politics: The American and French Revolutions in International Political Culture, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Burt, R.S. (2005), Brokerage and Closure: An Introduction to Social Capital, Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Burt, R.S. (1980), ‘Models of network structure’, Annual Review of Sociology 6: 79141.
Burt, R.S. (1976), ‘Positions in networks’, Social Forces 55(1): 93122.
Burt, R.S. (1987), ‘Social contagion and innovation: cohesion versus structural equivalence’, The American Journal of Sociology 92(6): 12871335.
Burt, R.S. (2004), ‘Structural holes and good ideas’, The American Journal of Sociology 110(2): 349399.
Burt, R.S. (1992), Structural Holes: The Social Structure of Competition, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Bush, J.W. (1967), Venetia Redeemed: Franco-Italian Relations 1864–1866, Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.
Byman, D.L.Pollack, K. (2001), ‘Let us now praise great men: bringing the statesmen back in’, International Security 25(4): 107146.
Carpenter, R.C. (2007), ‘Setting the advocacy agenda: theorizing issue emergence and nonemergence in transnational advocacy networks’, International Studies Quarterly 51: 99120.
Cederman, L.-E. (2003), ‘Endogenizing corporate identities: the next step in constructivist IR theory?’, European Journal of International Relations 9(1): 536.
Checkel, J.T. (1997), ‘International norms and domestic politics: bridging the rationalist–constructivist divide’, European Journal of International Relations 3(4): 473492.
Checkel, J.T. (1999), ‘Norms, institutions and national identity in contemporary Europe’, International Studies Quarterly 43(1): 83114.
Checkel, J.T. (1998), ‘The constructivist turn in international relations theory’, World Politics 50(2): 324348.
Checkel, J.T. (2001), ‘Why comply? Social learning and European identity change’, International Organization 55(3): 553588.
Chiles, T.H., Bluedron, A.C.Gupta, V.K. (2007), ‘Beyond creative destruction and entrepreneurial discovery: a radical Austrian approach to entrepreneurship’, Organization Studies 28: 467493.
Clark, C.W. (1934), Franz Joseph and Bismarck: The Diplomacy of Austria before the War of 1866, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Coleman, J. (1990), Foundations of Social Theory, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Coleman, J. (1988), ‘Social capital in the creation of human capital’, American Journal of Sociology 94: 95120.
Dessler, D. (1989), ‘What’s at stake in the agent-structure debate’, International Organization 43(3): 441473.
DiMaggio, P. (1988), ‘Interest and agency in institutional theory’, in L. Zucker (ed.), Institutional Patterns and Culture, Cambridge, MA: Ballinger Publishing Company.
Dorpalen, A. (1948), ‘Emperor Frederick III and the German liberal movement’, The American Historical Review 54(1): 131.
Echard, W.E. (1983), Napoleon III and the Concert of Europe, Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State Press.
Elrod, R.B. (1976), ‘The concert of Europe: a fresh look at an international system’, World Politics 28(2): 159174.
Emirbayer, M. (1997), ‘Manifesto for a relational sociology’, American Journal of Sociology 103(2): 281317.
Emirbayer, M.Goodwin, J. (1994), ‘Network analysis, culture, and the problem of agency’, American Journal of Sociology 99(6): 11411154.
Evangelista, M. (1995), ‘The paradox of state strength: transnational relations, domestic structures, and security policy in Russia and the Soviet Union’, International Organization 49(1): 138.
Fernandez, R.M.McAdam, D. (1988), ‘Social networks and social movements: multiorganizational fields and recruitment to Mississippi freedom summer’, Sociological Forum 3(3): 357382.
Finnemore, M. (1996), ‘Constructing norms of humanitarian intervention’, in P. Katzenstein (ed.), Culture of National Security, New York, USA: Columbia University Press.
Finnemore, M. (1993), ‘International organizations as teachers of norms: the United Nations educational, scientific, and cultural organization and science policy’, International Organization 47(4): 565597.
Finnemore, M.Sikkink, K. (1998), ‘International norm dynamics and political change’, International Organization 52(4): 887917.
Gargiulo, M.Benassi, M. (2000), ‘Trapped in your own net? Network cohesion, structural holes, and the adaptation of social capital’, Organization Science 11(2): 183196.
Garud, R., Hardy, C.Maguire, S. (2007), ‘Institutional entrepreneurship as embedded agency: an introduction to the special issue’, Organization Studies 28: 957969.
Giddens, A. (1995), A Contemporary Critique of Historical Materialism, 2nd edn., Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Goddard, S.E. (2009), ‘When Right makes Might’, International Security 33(3): 110142.
Goddard, S.E. (2006), ‘Uncommon ground: indivisible territory and the politics of legitimacy’, International Organization 60(1): 3568.
Gould, R.V. (1991), ‘Multiple networks and mobilization in the Paris commune, 1871’, American Sociological Review 56(6): 716729.
Haas, E. (2004), The uniting of Europe: Political, Social, and Economical Forces, 1950–1957, South Bend, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.
Haas, P.M. (1989), ‘Do regimes matter? Epistemic communities and Mediterranean pollution control’, International Organization 43(3): 377403.
Haas, P.M. (1990), Saving the Mediterranean: The Politics of International Environmental Cooperation, New York, USA: Columbia University Press.
Hafner-Burton, E.Montgomery, A.H. (2006), ‘Power positions: international organizations, social networks, and conflict’, Journal of Conflict Resolution 50(1): 327.
Hallberg, C.W. (1955), Franz Joseph and Napoleon III 1852–1864: A Study of Austro-French Relations, New York, USA: Bookman Associates.
Hertslet, E. (1875), The Map of Europe by Treaty: Showing the Various Political and Territorial Changes which Have Taken Place Since the General Peace of 1814, London, UK: Buttersworths.
Jackson, P.T.Nexon, D. (1999), ‘Relations before states: substance, process, and the study of world politics’, European Journal of International Relations 5(3): 291332.
Keck, M.Sikkink, K. (1998), Activists Beyond Borders: Advocacy Networks in International Politics, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Kim, H.Bearman, P.S. (1997), ‘The structure and dynamics of movement participation’, American Sociological Review 62(1): 7092.
Kissinger, H. (1964), A World Restored, New York, USA: Grosset and Dunlap.
Kniss, F. (1996), ‘Ideas and symbols as resources in intrareligious conflict: the case of American Mennonites’, Sociology of Religion 57(1): 723.
Knoke, D.Kuklinski, J.H. (1982), Network Analysis, Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.
Kratochwil, F.V. (1993), ‘The embarrassment of changes: neo-realism as the science of realpolitik without politics’, Review of International Studies 19(1): 6380.
Legro, J.W. (2005), Rethinking the World: Great Power Strategies and International Order, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Legro, J.W. (1994), ‘Military culture and inadvertent escalation in World War II’, International Security 18(4): 108142.
Legro, J.W. (2000), ‘Whence American internationalism’, International Organization 54(2): 253289.
Legro, J.W. (1997), ‘Which norms matter? Revisiting the ‘failure’ of internationalism’, International Organization 51(1): 3163.
Lieberman, R.C. (2002), ‘Ideas, institutions, and political order: explaining political change’, The American Political Science Review 96(4): 697712.
MacDonald, P. (2009), ‘Is imperial rule obsolete? Assessing the barriers to overseas adventurism’, Security Studies 18(1): 79114.
MacDonald, P. (2007), Networks of Domination: The Social Foundations of Empire, Ph.D. Dissertation, Columbia University.
McAdam, D. (1986), ‘Recruitment to high-risk activism: the case of freedom summer’, The American Journal of Sociology 92(1): 6490.
McAdam, D.Paulsen, R. (1993), ‘Specifying the relationship between social ties and activism’, The American Journal of Sociology 99(3): 640667.
McAdam, D.Rucht, D. (1993), ‘The cross-national diffusion of movement ideas’, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 528: 5674.
McAdam, D., Tarrow, S.Tilly, C. (2001), Dynamics of Contention, New York, USA: Cambridge University Press.
McClean, P.D. (1998), ‘A frame analysis of favor seeking in the renassiance: agency, networks, and political culture’, The American Journal of Sociology 104(1): 5191.
Mische, A.White, H. (1998), ‘Between conversation and switching: public switching dynamics across networks’, Social Research 65(3): 695724.
Mitzen, J. (2005), ‘Reading Habermas in anarchy: multilateral diplomacy and global public spheres’, American Political Science Review 99(3): 401417.
Moravcsik, A. (1999), ‘A new statecraft? Supranational entrepreneurs and international cooperation’, International Organization 53(2): 167306.
Mosse, W.E. (1958), The European Powers and the German Question, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Nexon, D. (2009), The Struggle for Power in Early Modern Europe: Religious Conflict, Dynastic Empires, and International Change, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Nexon, D.Wright, T. (2007), ‘What’s at stake in the American empire debate?’, American Political Science Review 101(2): 253271.
Osiander, A. (1994), The State System of Europe, 1640–1990: Peacemaking and the Conditions of International Stability, Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Padgett, J.F.Ansell, C.K. (1993), ‘Robust action and the rise of the Medici, 1400–1434’, The American Journal of Sociology 98(6): 12591319.
Pflanze, O. (1955), ‘Bismarck and German nationalism’, The American Historical Review 60(3): 548566.
Pflanze, O. (1963), Bismarck and the Development of Germany, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Pouliot, V. (2008), ‘The logic of practicality: a theory of practice of security communities’, International Organization 62(2): 257288.
Powell, W.W.DiMaggio, P.J. (1991), The New Institutionalism in Organizational Analysis, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Risse, T. (2000), ‘ “Let’s argue!”: communicative action in world politics’, International Organization 54(1): 139.
Risse-Kappen, T. (1994), ‘Ideas do not float freely: transnational coalitions, domestic structures, and the end of the Cold War’, International Organization 48(2): 185214.
Ritter, G. (1950), ‘Das Bismarckproblem’, Merkur 4: 657676.
Ruggie, J.G. (1986), ‘Continuity and transformation in the world polity: toward a neorealist synthesis’, in R.O. Keohane (ed.), Neorealism and Its Critics, New York, USA: Columbia University Press.
Schroeder, P.W. (1994), The Transformation of European Politics, 1763–1848, Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Schroeder, P.W. (1992), ‘Did the Vienna settlement rest on a balance of power’, The American Historical Review 97(3): 683706.
Schroeder, P.W. (1986), ‘The 19th century international system: changes in structure’, World Politics 39(1): 126.
Schroeder, P.W. (1993), ‘The transformation of politicial thinking, 1787–1848’, in R.L. Jervis and J.L. Snyder (eds), Coping with Complexity in the International System, Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Schumpeter, J.H. (1962), Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy, New York, USA: Harper Perennial.
Schumpeter, J.H. (1934), The Theory of Economic Development, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Schweller, R. (2006), Unanswered Threats: Political Constraints on the Balance of Power, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Sewell, W.H. Jr. (1992), ‘A theory of structure: duality, agency, and transformation’, The American Journal of Sociology 98(1): 129.
Sheehan, J. (1973), ‘Liberalism and society in Germany, 1815–48’, Journal of Modern History 45(4): 583604.
Sikkink, K. (1993), ‘Human rights, principled issue-networks, and sovereignty in Latin America’, International Organization 47(3): 411441.
Simmel, G. (1971), On Individuality and Social Forms, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Simmel, G. (1990), The Philosophy of Money, New York, USA: Routledge.
Snow, D.A., Rochford, E.B. Jr., Worden, S.K.Benford, R.D. (1986), ‘Frame alignment processes, micromobilization, and movement participation’, American Sociological Review 51(4): 464481.
Snow, D.A., Zurcher, L.A. Jr.Ekland-Olson, S. (1980), ‘Social networks and social movements: a microstructural approach to differential recruitment’, American Sociological Review 45(5): 787801.
Spruyt, H. (1994), The Sovereign State and Its Competitors, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Steefel, L.D. (1930), ‘Bismarck’, The Journal of Modern History 2(1): 9495.
Steefel, L.D. (1932), Bismarck, the Hohenzollern Candidacy, and the Origins of the Franco-German War of 1870, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Tilly, C. (1998a), ‘Contentious conversation’, Social Research 653(3): 491510.
Tilly, C. (1998b), ‘Social movements and (all sorts of) other political interactions – local, national, and international – including identities’, Theory and Society 27(4): 453480.
Tucker, R.C. (1978), The Marx-Engels Reader, New York, USA: W.W. Norton.
Wellman, B. (1983), ‘Network analysis: some basic principles’, Sociological Theory 1: 155200.
Wellman, B.Berkowitz, S.D. (1988), Social Structures: A Network Approach, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wendt, A. (1999), Social Theory of International Politics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wendt, A. (1987), ‘The agent-structure problem in international relations’, International Organization 41(1): 335370.
White, H. (1996), ‘Network switchings and Bayesian forks: reconstructing the social and behavior sciences’, Social Research 62: 10351063.
Young, O.R. (1972), ‘Intermediaries: additional thoughts on third parties’, The Journal of Conflict Resolution 16(1): 5165.
Young, O.R. (1991), ‘Political leadership and regime formation: on the development of institutions in international society’, International Organization 45(3): 281303.
Zelizar, V. (1997), The Social Meaning of Money, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Zelizar, V. (1989), ‘The social meaning of money: special monies’, American Journal of Sociology 95(2): 342377.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

International Theory
  • ISSN: 1752-9719
  • EISSN: 1752-9727
  • URL: /core/journals/international-theory
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed