Network governance in Healthcare, a systematic literature review


  • Arjen Maris University of Twente
  • Stijn Hoppenbrouwers HAN University of applied sciences
  • Pascal Ravesteijn HU University of applied sciences
  • Jos van Hillegersberg University of Twente



Network Governance, Healthcare, Systematic Literature Review, Network Characteristics


The typical structure of the healthcare sector involves (specialist) intertwined practices co-occurring in formal or informal networks. These practices must answer to the concerns and needs of all related stakeholders. Multimorbidity and the need to share knowledge for scientific development are among the driving factors for collaboration in healthcare. To establish and keep up a permanent collaborative link, it takes effort and understanding of the network characteristics that must be governed.

It is not hard to find practices of Network Governance (NG) in a variety of industries. Still, there is a lack of insight in this subject, including knowledge on how to establish and maintain an effective healthcare network. Consequently, this study's research question is: How is network governance organized in the healthcare sector?

A systematic literature study was performed to select 80 NG articles. Based on these publications the characteristics of NG are made explicit. The findings demonstrate that combinations of governance style (relational versus contractual governance) and governance structure (lead versus shared governance) lead to different network dynamics. Furthermore, the results show that in order to comprehend how networks in the healthcare sector emerge and can be regulated, it is vital to understand the current network type. Additionally, it informs us of the governing factors.