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Brokering change: networks and entrepreneurs in international politics

  • Stacie E. Goddard (a1)
Abstract

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.

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E-mail: sgoddard@wellesley.edu
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International Theory
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