This paper presents a theory of the role of culture in collaborative policy networks. It builds on the literature that analyzes the factors related to the formation, maintenance, and dissolution of collaborative arrangements by demonstrating the importance of hitherto undertheorized cultural factors. Cultural theory indicates that actors with different cultural viewpoints have distinct and predictable biases in terms of their expectations of collaboration and their preferences concerning how collaborative policy networks are structured. These biases, in turn, shape how collaborative partners are chosen and how collaborative relationships are maintained over time. The theory is illustrated with a case study of the rise and dissolution of a coalition within a housing policy network in Los Angeles. The case illustrates that cultural differences can impede collaboration even when organizations share similar policy goals.
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